Among the most popular children’s books of the Victorian period, The Water-Babies continues to delight readers of all ages. It tells the story of a young boy named Tom, who escapes his harsh life as a chimney sweep by being transformed into a “water-baby.” His adventures underwater introduce him to strange animals, gentle fairies, and exotic seascapes, and Kingsley frequently digresses from the mythical narrative with his commentary on political and scientific topics. Many of Linley Sambourne’s remarkable illustrations from the 1886 edition are included in the text of the novel.
This Broadview edition reproduces the first edition of The Water-Babies, published in 1863. The appendices include a broad selection of other 19th-century children’s literature and excerpts from Kingsley’s essays on evolution, hygiene, and education.