A novel, Curse of the time witch : and, An essay, The time-slip novel

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Communication and the Arts


Education and Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Jill Durey


E. Nesbit’s The Story of the Amulet inspired me to write a time-slip novel for young adults. During my research for this explicatory essay, I discovered that later writers not only expanded upon Nesbit’s simple formula to create atmospheric novels with fully developed characters, but also experimented with space as well as with time, thus allowing their protagonists also to travel within parallel worlds. This essay traces the source of Nesbit’s inspiration as well as discussing the problems associated with the actual writing of a time-slip novel, together with its gradual acceptance as a sub genre within fantasy literature. In particular, Nesbit’s influence on later writers is also discussed. Nesbit’s formula incorporated characters travelling into the past to perform a quest or to solve a problem before returning to the present. One group of writers, after the wide-spread destruction of World War Two, used Nesbit’s formula as a basic structure to portray, usually through the eyes of one main protagonist, an England they once knew that was on the point of vanishing. Another group of writers, having spent their early years in the Blitz in an England under constant threat of invasion, often delved further into the past to express their concern over the ever-fighting forces of good and evil. These writers, like Nesbit, returned to using more than one protagonist, but unlike Nesbit, their protagonists are usually visited by characters from out of the past, rather than the reverse. It is from within this group of writers that the concept of parallel worlds emerged. My own novel, Curse of the Time Witch, set in Elizabethan England at the time of the Spanish Armada in 1588, follows Nesbit’s formula to some extent, except that the events are seen through the eyes of a protagonist living in the past who is visited by the other protagonist from the twenty-first century. My novel is also somewhat unusual because my protagonist, as well as speaking in the first person, also uses the present tense to describe the events as they take place.

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