I was ten when The Phoenix and the Carpet introduced ""the magician"" to me,- E. Nesbit. And I rushed through book after book- the magic books first, then the Bastable children series, then The Railway Children. It was with delight I found that today's children were having their chance -- and even more delight to find that they liked them. The books didn't date-except pleasantly. And to all in two generations brought up with E. Nesbit, Noel Streatfeild's book about the life of E. Nesbit will prove an open door. To others it will be inexplicable. One has to know the magic to be ready to go behind the scenes. One has- too- to know something of the kind of life glimpsed -- the kind of school -- for this is not an orthodox biography. Rather is it a searching out of roots, of reasons why she wrote as she did, created the kinds of children she did, and now and again escaped from reality into a world of magic. And because knowing the books themselves provides the passport, this book is unlikely to have a wide American market. Not all of the books are known here, as they are to English children. Definitely not a book for children -- but a book that those in the field of writing will find illuminating.