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Fantasy is a quite young genre of fiction, see some Examples. It is used for a story which places it's fictional plot in ancient times. The setting of old myths and legends is used to tell a story. But the content is only fictional and not historical.

The beginnings of modern fantasy can be found in the stories by William Morris which were published at the end of the 19th century. But, it really started in the 1920s when several authors in England began to write their own, fictional stories placed in a mythical setting. The concept was to create epic stories like Homer and Sappho but with a typical English or North-European setting and background. Thus, many places and names from Norse Saga or Old English heroic epics like Beowulf or King Arthur are blended together. Furthermore, form and style of traditional storytelling from Shakespeare, Webster, and medieval lyric was adopted to give the stories a more original appearance.

One of the earlier works was the The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison which was published in 1922. In the 1930s the formation of an informal literary discussion group, i.e. a typical English club of gentlemen at the Oxford University in their time and place, called the Inklings created the right atmosphere to spawn a new genre of fiction. All the members had a love for ancient legends and mythology and encouraged themselves to create new stories in a traditional setting and using the traditional style of storytelling.
From this club many well known authors of fantasy emerged. Among others some of the members were J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings), C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia). Both were very closed friends. When some of their stories were published a new genre was born to the public. Most of the stories are even very popular today.

At the same time some American authors started similar approaches independently. Among others some authors are Robert E. Howard who started to publish stories in 1932 (Conan), or H.P. Lovecraft.

The most famous novel is J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings published during 1954-55. To read more on Tolkien take a look at the Tolkien Society.

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