Alfred H. Miles, ed. Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.
Critical and Biographical Essay by Alexander Hay Japp
Edith (Nesbit) Bland (18581924)
MRS. BLAND, who is better known to the public under her maiden signature of E. Nesbit, was born in 1858. She began to write verses as early as 1870, when she had not yet completed her twelfth year. Her first published poems appeared in the Sunday Magazine and Good Words. She has published Lays and Legends (1886), and Leaves of Life (1888), besides some bright and successful childrens books, essays, and stories, as well as poems, and has contributed largely to the Argosy and Longmans Magazine. In 1879 she married Mr. Bland, and has several children; and, as indicating her sympathies in certain directions, one of them is named Fabian, after the Fabian Society.
Mrs. Bland has a sweet lyrical note, and a keen sense of the pain and sorrow involved in the modern strain and stress of improvement, so-called progress, and enlightenment. The mechanical tendency of the time, which to such a degree represses free and happy expression of individuality, and the wrongs that flow from a constitution of society which so separates the various classes that they are without a common interest, or fail to recognise its existence, have deeply impressed her, and the sense of this colours much of her more serious verse. In one or two of her poems there is a note of protest against certain forms of social inequality which is almost socialistic. If this were more obtaining, it might operate disadvantageously. But she seldom fails to communicate some fresh touch, or to find some new image which elevates and imparts relief. And she delights to escape often into a freer sphere, and is then very apt at giving voice to many of the indefinite yearnings of womanhood towards higher ideals, a fuller development, a wider sphere. She has, too, a touch of humour, and a liking for dramatic mediums, and can occasionally condescend to something approaching to the vivacity of society verse.
Her Baby poems are very sweet, and her treatment of the subject of love, true, sincere and strong. Much of her best work is in her longer poems, which space forbids us to quote; but the few short poems which we are able to give will doubtless excite a desire on the part of readers unfamiliar with her work to make a larger acquaintance with it.
Mrs. Blands later publications are too numerous to name in detail; they include Poets Whispers (1895); A Pomander in Verse (1895); Songs of Love and Empire (1898); Little Rhymes (1898); Rainbow and the Rose (1905).