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The Water of the Wondrous Isles
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The Water of the Wondrous Isles is a fantasy novel by William Morris, perhaps the first writer of modern fantasy to unite an imaginary world with the element of the supernatural, and thus the precursor of much of present-day fantasy literature. It was first printed in 1897 by Morris' own Kelmscott Press on vellum and artisanal paper in a blackletter type of his own design. Stolen as a child and raised in the wood of Evilshaw as servant to a witch, Birdalone ultimately escapes in her captress's magical boat, in which she travels to a succession of strange and wonderful islands. Among these is the Isle of Increase Unsought, an island cursed with boundless production, which Morris intended as a parable of contemporary Britain and a vehicle for his socialistic beliefs. Equally radical, during much of the first quarter of the novel, Birdalone is naked, a highly unusual detail in Victorian fiction.
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