Some of the earliest books written - The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Odyssey - are fantasy, dealing with monsters, marvels, extraordinary voyages and magic. Fantasy remained an essential part of European literature until the rise of the modern realist novel. But even then fantasy remained popular, in the guise of Gothic horror, the ghost story, the fairytale and stories of imaginary worlds: it was in part a reaction to the Enlightenment, to realism and to industrialisation. This book traces the history of fantasy from the earliest years through to the origins of modern fantasy in the twentieth century. From the 1950s (when Tolkien published The Lord of the Rings and Lewis published the Narnia books) the story is dealt with decade by decade. In the 1980s, fantasy earned its own section in bookshops in the English-speaking world and beyond, and by the end of the 1990s, fantasy writers such as Terry Pratchett and J.K. Rowling had become the best-selling writers in Britain, while Tolkien was a best-seller in all the major languages of the world. A Short History of Fantasy explores the great variety of fiction published under the heading 'fantasy' in the twenty-first century, and also seeks to explain its continuing and growing popularity.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.