Not even Pharaoh can give orders to a cat.
–Time Cat, Lloyd Alexander
Later in life, fantasy author Lloyd Alexander was to say that his best friends and teachers were books. He claimed to have spent most of his childhood with a nose buried in a book, particularly books by Charles Dickens. This sort of life left a mark, and by the age of 15, he had decided to become a poet. It was not, alas, a career he could launch into immediately, partly because his father thought the idea just slightly impractical.
Instead, Alexander spent a few unhappy years at a bank before joining the U.S. Army after the start of World War II. By his own account he was not an asset to the Army, but the experience did bring him to Wales, later to have a strong influence on his works, and to provide him with a thoroughly romantic introduction to his wife. He did not, however, give up the hopes of a literary career, penning several unpublished novels before finally breaking into publishing with some translations and humorous work, including several novels intended for adults, now mostly forgotten.
In the early 1960s he decided to try something a little different: a children’s book about a time-travelling cat, Time Cat. It was to transform his career.
[It’s astonishing the way time travelers in children’s fiction consistently end up in the same place, isn’t it?]