Nowadays, when we think of fantasy we probably think of blockbuster film sagas full of elves, wizards and incredible special effects. Bookshops and cinemas are full of fantasy stories and the genre is loved by children and adults alike. It is easy to imagine that fantasy is a relatively modern style but many traditional fairy stories used the same elements: imaginary worlds, speaking animals, dark powers and magical adventures. These stories developed into science fiction, horror or the more modern fantasy we are familiar with today.

One of the first children’s fantasy stories was the famous Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, written in 1865. It tells the story of a girl called Alice who falls through a rabbit hole into a strange world full of strange magical creatures. It was one of the first stories to have a child protagonist and be written to entertain children. Later, other writers, like L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz (1900), and J. M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan (1904), were inspired by this children’s classic. They wrote their own children’s fantasy stories which were the start of a whole new genre in which magic and reality live side by side.

Illustration by ​Simona Cordero, taken from ​Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie, Green Apple (CEFR A1)