Mistress Masham's Repose
by T.H. White, illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg
“She saw: first, a square opening, about eight inches wide, in the lowest step…finally, she saw that there was a walnut shell, or half one, outside the nearest door…. She went to look at the shell—but looked with the greatest astonishment. There was a baby in it.”
So ten-year-old Maria, the orphaned mistress of Malplaquet, discovers the secret of her deteriorating estate: On a deserted island at its far corner, in the temple long ago nicknamed Mistress Masham’s Repose, lives an entire community of people—“the People,” as they call themselves—all only inches tall. With the help of her only friend—the absurdly erudite Professor—Maria soon learns that this settlement is no less than the kingdom of Lilliput (first seen in Gulliver’s Travels) in exile. Safely hidden for centuries, the Lilliputians are at first endangered by Maria’s well-meaning but clumsy attempts to make their lives easier, but their situation grows truly ominous when they are discovered by Maria’s greedy guardians, who look at the People and see only a bundle of money.
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A masterpiece of narration, literary ingenuity, humor and satire.
I can think of few greater pleasures in reading aloud to a bookish child than to read that child first Gulliver’s Travels and then Mistress Masham right after.... It is a stunning book for a child to know.
It is literate, graceful and malicious…altogether a really charming contrivance.
— Diana Trilling
Readers of earlier books by T.H. White (The Sword in the Stone, Witch in the Wood, The Ill-made Knight) can expect the able recreation of period decor, the faculty of transmuting accepted literature into new life, elements of very human humor.
— Kirkus Reviews
The action is shot through with humor, and the Lilliputians, with their eighteenth-century manner of speech and dress, are characters not soon forgotten.
—The Horn Book
One of the finest, most magical and extraordinary children’s books ever written.
— Anne Fine, Children’s Laureate of Britain
This is an exquisite filigree...As its Lilliputians would say, it is a Work to be held in high Esteam by all true Persons of Quality.
There is, in fact, nothing which can be said about the book except to praise it without limit.