The Water-Babies
  • Pages: 288
  • ISBN: 9780199685455
  • Publisher: OUP
  • Binding: Paperback

The Water-Babies

Charles Kingsley
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Description

Tom, a poor orphan, is employed by the villainous chimney-sweep, Grimes, to climb up inside flues to clear away the soot. He loses his way and emerges in the bedroom of Ellie, the young daughter of the house who mistakes him for a thief.

He runs away and slips into a stream, becoming a water-baby. He meets an old lobster, other water-babies, the fierce Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid and the motherly Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby. After a long and arduous quest to the Other-end-of-Nowhere young Tom achieves his heart’s desire.

Reviewed by Margaret Drabble in Slightly Foxed Issue 66.

Underwater Heaven

MARGARET DRABBLE

I can’t remember what age I was when I came across Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies. I must have read it earlier than my other childhood favourite, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, which was a Christmas gift in 1948, but at that age I can’t have tackled the Kingsley tale in its full version. I must have read a shortened illustrated children’s text, of which there have been many. I loved the story of Tom’s adventures, first as a dirty chimney-sweep intruding on little Ellie in her fine white bedchamber, then when he went on the run through a landscape that strangely mixes Yorkshire and Devon, then as a water-baby, as he ventures down the rivers and into the sea. I sympathized with his loneliness and with his longing to find other water-babies, and rejoiced with him when he discovered that the sea was full of them.

Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 66, Summer 2020



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Underwater Heaven

I can’t remember what age I was when I came across Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies. I must have read it earlier than my other childhood favourite, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the...

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