The Story of the Treasure Seekers

The Story of the Treasure Seekers
Author E. Nesbit
Illustrator Gordon Browne, Lewis Baumer
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Bastable
Genre Children's Novel
Publisher T. Fisher Unwin
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Followed by The Wouldbegoods

The Story of the Treasure Seekers is a novel by E. Nesbit. First published in 1899, it tells the story of Dora, Oswald, Dicky, Alice, Noel, and Horace Octavius (H. O.) Bastable, and their attempts to assist their widowed father and recover the fortunes of their family; its sequels are The Wouldbegoods (1899) and The New Treasure Seekers (1904). The novel's complete name is The Story of the Treasure Seekers: Being the Adventures of the Bastable Children in Search of a Fortune. The original edition included illustrations by H. R. Millar. The Puffin edition (1958) was illustrated by Cecil Leslie.

The story is told from a child's point of view. The narrator is Oswald, but on the first page he announces:

"It is one of us that tells this story – but I shall not tell you which: only at the very end perhaps I will. While the story is going on you may be trying to guess, only I bet you don't."[1]

However, his occasional lapse into first person, and the undue praise he likes to heap on himself, makes his identity obvious to the attentive reader long before he reveals it himself.

Influence on other literature

The Story of the Treasure Seekers was the first novel for children by Nesbit; it and her later novels exerted considerable influence on subsequent English children's literature, most notably Arthur Ransome's books and C. S. Lewis'[2] The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis notes in the first chapter of The Magician's Nephew that the portion of the action of that book that takes place in this world happens at the same time as that of the Treasure Seekers. The American writer Edward Eager was also influenced by this and other Nesbit books, most notably in his Half Magic series, where he mentions the Bastable children and other Nesbit characters as heroes of his characters.

Nesbit's influence on other British and American children's literature rests largely on the following motifs: her protagonists are a set or sets of siblings from a separated or incomplete family who must (or prefer to) amuse themselves alone while on holiday. Through magic or complex imaginative play, the children face perils that they overcome through pluck.[3] Another notable feature is the depiction of the realistic quarrels and faults of the children.

British writer Michael Moorcock later used the character, or at least the name, of Oswald Bastable for the hero and first-person narrator of his trilogy A Nomad of the Time Streams, published from 1971 until 1981, an influence on the nascent genre of steampunk.

TV adaptations

The book has been made into TV series three times, in 1953,[4] 1961,[5] and 1982.[6] It was made into a television movie as The Treasure Seekers in 1996.[7]


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