Fantasy in the early 20th century
In the first part of the 20th century, fantasy was still considered children’s literature. This was due to successful children’s books in the past, such as Alice in Wonderland (1865), and due to the imaginative content of the genre, such as fairies, dragons, and magic.
A popular work of the era was the 1904 play Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Upby Scottish author and playwright J. M. Barrie. Like so many fantasy heroes after him, Peter is an orphan and has magical abilities such as flying.
Another influential work of the era was The Hobbit, or There and Back Again (1937) by J. R. R. Tolkien. In this popular children’s book, Tolkien outlines the imaginary world of Middle-earth in which his later series The Lord of the Rings would also be set.
Fantasy in the late 20th century
The fantasy genre really started to become popular halfway through the 20th century. Many of the novels we consider fantasy masterpieces today were written in this period. The increase in popularity also meant that it gradually became more acceptable for adults to read fantasy.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-1956) was the first fantasy series to gain major popularity. Through seven books it tells the story of the kingdom of Narnia. The series is mainly set in an imaginary secondary world resembling the Middle Ages. The child protagonists move from theprima...