The Railway Children
- Edith Nesbit’s novel "The Railway Children" tells the story of the trials and adventures of a middle class Edwardian family living in the suburbs of London at the turn of the century. The story is set during the spring, summer and autumn months of 1903. The family consists of three children: Roberta, known as "Bobbie" who at 11 years old, is the eldest of the three, followed by Peter, who wants to be an engineer when he grows up, and Phyllis, the youngest, who means well! Then there is Mother and Father, Mother writes poetry and stories to keep the children amused, and Father works for the government in the Foreign Office. Edith Nesbit describes them as being "just perfect". The family live in a red brick house called Edgecombe Villa, which has all the modern conveniences, as the estate agents say. One evening after dinner when Father is enjoying his after-dinner cigar, the family are discussing the possibility of mending Peter’s toy steam engine, which has suffered an unfortunate accident, there comes a knock at the front door. The Maid calls Father into his study. Although the children cannot hear what is being said, they can hear voices that are raised in anger. When the shouting finally stops, Father leaves the house with two official looking gentlemen, and their Mother looks extremely worried. Mother tells the children that Father has had to go away on business and that she does not know when he will be coming home again. There follows some weeks of misery and anxiety for the children. Mother is almost always out, coming home late and tired. The children make a promise to each other to be on their best behavior and not to ask Mother any questions about her obvious sadness. One morning, Mother seems to be more cheerful and tells the children that they are going to move to a "darling little house" in the country. The children are relieved to see Mother in a happier mood, but are still aware that something is very wrong. Mother and the three children move to "Three Chimneys", an isolated cottage deep in the sleepy countryside. Mother cannot afford to send the children to school, and so the children find themselves with a whole summer of freedom to look forward to. Mother tells the children that they will have to play at being poor. Mother always seems to be busy now, she is writing stories to sell to the magazines of the day. After living in the hustle and bustle of London, and with the countryside being so quiet, the children naturally enough find themselves being attracted towards the only real source of interest around, and that is the railway. They come to know, and make friends with the porter at the station. His name is "Perks" and the children spend many a happy afternoon in the porter’s office drinking tea and chatting to him about the railway. As the story unfolds, the children find themselves being caught up in many exciting adventures involving the railway and also the nearby canal. They make new friends at the station and in the nearby village. Every morning the children wave at the 9:15 train, they call this train "The Green Dragon" and they send their love to Father by it. They make one particular new friend; an old gentleman that rides on the "Green Dragon" every day, he turns out to be a rather special old gentleman, and he holds the solution to Father’s mysterious disappearance and eventual happy reunion with his family.....