Railway children

Edith (Nesbit) and Hubert Bland moved to Lee in the last quarter of 1884. Edith was regarded locally as neglectful for letting her children run wild in the streets to exercise their freedom. Elisabeth Galvin writes:

“The Bland children loved playing along that stretch of railway line between Grove Park and Hither Green. They seemed to have got up to all sorts of adventures that would later inspire their mother to include in her novels, such as taking off their stockings and shoes and putting on their shabbiest clothes to sell posies they’d made from flowers in the garden to unsuspecting locals at the station.”.

In Chapter III of The Railway Children (1906), Mother warns her children not to walk on the railway line, leading to some discussion of the matter:

“….Bobbie understood a little how people do not leave off running to their mothers when they are in trouble even when they are grown up, and she thought she knew a little what it must be to be sad, and have no mother to run to any more…

…”Trains keep to the left like carriages,” said Peter, “so if we keep to the right, we’re bound to see them coming.”

“Very well,” said Mother, and I dare say you think that she ought not to have said it. But she remembered about when she was a little girl herself, and she did say it – and neither her own children nor you nor any other children in the world could ever understand exactly what it cost her to do it…”.

Noel Griffith, with whom, while she was married, Edith had a “fairytale romance” before he entered a marriage of his own, wrote:

“The old feeling that it was The Blands who had largely moulded my outlook on life never for a moment left me. And of course that inquisitive tolerance has been passed on to my children.

One’s outlook was completely changed by such a contact.”.

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