How has fantasy evolved over time?

2023 © Wikiask
Other topics: Literature
Short answer:
  • Fantasy is an ever-growing and evolving genre.
  • Modern-day fantasy has come out from the imaginary world portrayed in novels, short stories, and magazines to the silver screens through VFX and other technologies that enabled the possibilities for creating a different world.

How has fantasy evolved over time..JPG

What is fantasy, its subgenres, types, and history[edit]

Fantasy is a popular literature genre that is known to feature magical and supernatural elements that are not known to have existed in the real world. The fantasy writers create an entirely imaginary world embedded with their own laws and logic and imaginary creatures and characters. It can never be correlated to scientific facts and reality.[1]

Fantasy literature is believed to be an ever-growing genre.[2] Some of its notable sub-genres that have evolved over the years are magical realism, epic fantasy, low fantasy, fairy tales, fables, dark fantasy, and superhero fiction.

The fantasy genre is believed to have first rooted in the 18th century with the increase in the popularity of fictional travel tales, which further evolved into fantastic stories and gained recognition as an altogether different genre in the late 19th century. J.R.R Tolkein and C.S Lewis are said to be the two fathers of fantasy.

Evolution of Fantasy[edit]

The evaluation and history of fantasy are often categorized into pre-Tolkein, Tolkein, and post-Tolkein eras. During the pe-Tolkein period, fantasy was largely based on chivalrous European romances and tales, which were considered to be somewhat believable.[3]

At the end of the 19th century, Fantasy was primarily considered to be a genre for adults. L Frank Baum and Edith Nesbit were the only two children’s fantasy writers who developed a connection between the real and fantasy worlds.[4] From 1900-1950, the popularity of fantasy books was supported by fantasy magazines that featured short stories and articles, which in turn gave aspiring fantasy writers a chance to get their work noticed. This was also the era when Lewis and Tolkein became popular. Both of them were influenced by Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology.[5]

By the 20th century, fantasy diversified into various sub-genres such as whimsical, sword and sorcery, portal, and quest fantasy. During this time fantasy writers also began melding science fiction and fantasy in books such as The Chronicles of Amber and The Darkover series. Another notable evolution was animal fantasy through the book Watership Down. soon dark fantasy started emerging as a cross between horror and fantasy.[6]

Some of the most popular writers who have significantly contributed to the evolution of fantasy as a distinct genre are J.R.R Tolkein, C.S Lewis, Terry Pratchet, Philip Pullman, and J.K Rowling.

Modern fantasy[edit]

Today fantasy is known to have made its position in the modern day’s 4 major storytelling mediums: novels, games, TV Shows, and movies. The genre is believed to have pragmatically sprung into the popular culture wherein fantasy took over from our books to silver screens. And all of a sudden, the imaginary world that we created in over minds through reading was created in front of our eyes. The Hollywood adaptations of Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games are a few popular examples of modern-day fantasy movies.


  1. "What Is the Fantasy Genre? History of Fantasy and Subgenres and Types of Fantasy in Literature". Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  2. "How Fantasy Literature Helped Create the 21st Century". Electric Literature. 16 July 2020. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  3. "The Evolution of Fantasy". Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  4. "How Fantasy Has Changed Since the 1920s". Reedsy. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  5. "How the Fantasy genre has evolved and lasted through the years". Auralcrave. 26 November 2021. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  6. "Hallmarks of Fantasy: A Brief History of the Genre". The New York Public Library. Retrieved 10 October 2022.