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First published in 1955, Katherine Briggs' story about the hobgoblin whose charge it is to protect and influence the unloving Puritan family who come to live at Widford Manor after the Civil War is a classic of English children's writing. Hobberdy Dick's benign works in favour of the characters carry the story from sadness to delight; but it is his character as ancient guardian that holds the reader. For the true conclusion is that sanctioned by fairy lore: the offer of mortal cloth for Dick to wear which will bring him eternal release from servitude. All these strands are intertwined with wonderful ease. Katharine Briggs's absorption in 'the personnel of fairyland' confers a naturalness to the supernatural goings-on, while the precise attention she gives to its setting reinforces this. Much of her youth had been spent in Scotland, but in 1939 she had bought a house in Burford and her love of the Cotswolds, with their green roads, their barrows, and their standing stones bring accuracy and, above all, warmth to her portrayal of both landscape and people.
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