Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair by William Morris

Two rings surrounding a person on a purple background.  Two open white pages on an orange background.  A black background with a white W.  A black background with a white symbol, that has a black play symbol in the middle.  A black background with a white tentacled cat.

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Fantasy has a long history of successive influence. The past heavily influences the present; one can easily connect Alice in Wonderland to The Wizard of Oz, or see the influence of George MacDonald’s goblins in The Princess and the Goblin on Tolkien’s goblins in The Hobbit – or the Anglo-Saxon past in general on The Lord of the Rings. What came before is taken and wrought anew.

One can draw a straight line from Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair by William Morris to Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis. While the latter is more popular, one can see the influence of the former shine through. Both are about royal heirs who, through one set of machinations or another, are denied their birthright and must get it back.

But there is another, longer line to be drawn. Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair is, itself, derived from the medieval Lay of Havelok the Dane, written sometime towards the end of the 13th century. Havelock and Goldborow are both displaced in their youth but are later returned to the throne.

The past is always felt in the present. The lines might curve and bend, but they are always there, linking the present to the past – whether the inspiration comes from a work a hundred or a thousand years ago, it hardly matters.