This study explores the lives and works of 4 major 19th C female children’s writers, who, in their fantasy and family tales, caused posterity to inherit a halcyon image of Victorian childhood. They wrote of family, gender, parenthood, morals, class, behaviour, religion and death. Behind the idylls that they strove to impart lay not only conflicts between realism and idealism, and between convention and radicalism, but also the chasms in their own turbulent lives. The Victorian age was a study in contradictions. An analysis of its core – its fears and hopes for the future of its children – are revealed in its most influential children’s books, and the extraordinary lives of their authors.