After having discussed the origins of fantasy earlier, here is a short overview of how the genre developed during the second half of the twentieth century and positioned itself as a genre to be taken seriously.
Authors and their works
After publishing The Hobbit in 1937, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was published in 1954-1955. The books became very popular and influenced the whole genre. Around the same time C.S. Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia and not long after, during the late sixties and early seventies, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote her Earthsee novels. Soon after, several other influential authors entered the scene. Most noticeble were Terry Brooks (Shannara) and David Eddings (Belgariad) who wrote their fantasy series mainly in the late seventies, the eighties and the early nineties.
Movies in the eighties
Not only the world of literature picked up and started to accept fantasy, Hollywood also stepped in. Many great fantasy movies were produced of which several were big hits with mainstream audiences. Everyone has heard of movies like The Neverending Story, Conan the Barbarian, Legend and Willow, and probably can name a few more they remember from those days. Together with the new fantasy books and series that were coming out, these movies helped introduce fantasy to the masses and make it allright to like the genre: people no longer needed to feel embarressed to read or watch fantasy.
This is how a genre that started out as myths told over camp fires and children’s tales, became a mature literature and movie genre, read and watched by many millions.
Next time, I will go into the developments during the first decade of the new millenium.