[[quoteright:234:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/TheBorrowersChildrensNovelCover_5258.JPG]]

A series of children's fantasy books by Mary Norton (who also wrote ''Literature/BedknobAndBroomstick'').

Arrietty Clock lives with her parents under the floor in the house of a "human bean". They live by "borrowing" from the human beans (it's only "stealing" if you take things from another Borrower), but never anything that might be missed; a Borrower must never be seen by a human bean, or let a human bean in any way know they exist. Unfortunately, Arrietty is a little too curious for her own good, and ends up talking with a human boy. The boy ends up fetching little things that might help the Borrowers, things they couldn't get for themselves.

Arrietty's parents, Pod and Homily, are frightened and upset, but eventually (if somewhat stiffly) accept that the human boy is going to help them and not harm them. However, soon enough the adults see the Borrowers too, so the family hides and has to pack up and leave the house. They head out into the wild -- like [[Literature/TheHobbit Bilbo]], they're not the adventurous type -- and try to make it to a house their relatives moved to years ago.

En route, they encounter Spiller, a loner who says little but sees much. He's a great hunter, and although their initial interaction is cool (as in "not quite frigid"), soon enough they warm to him. (At times it even looks like he and Arrietty might eventually get together and the fourth novel Borrowers Aloft ends with the declaration that they will get married eventually and a fairly detailed description of their future home and life together, but this never happens within the series. The final book introduces the character of Peagreen as another romantic possibility for Arrietty but ends without any romantic resolution.) He helps them out of a couple tight spots, including when they're captured by humans, and eventually even shows them a miniature village they can live in (crafted by a human, but they stay decently hidden so he doesn't see them).

Aside from the first minor "captured by humans" bit, they are captured one major time, when a human husband and wife decide to put the Borrowers on display in a glass house where they will not be allowed any privacy. Luckily, they manage to escape.

An enjoyable series that made for a pretty good couple of movies, starting with a 1973 made-for-TV Hallmark hall of fame movie. [[Film/TheBorrowers1997 The 1997 film starring John Goodman]] takes a far more urban setup, overturns the idea that the Borrowers have a low population, and in general is not as faithful to the books as the original movies were. A [[Film/TheBorrowers2011 BBC TV movie adaptation]] was released for Christmas 2011, featuring Creator/StephenFry and Creator/ChristopherEccleston. The Beeb had previously run a couple of miniseries in the nineties that were more faithful adaptations of the books. The first book has also been adapted into an animated movie by StudioGhibli, titled ''Anime/TheBorrowerArrietty'' (released in the U.S. as ''The Secret World of Arrietty'' and in the U.K. as just ''Arrietty'').

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!!These books provide examples of:

* BambooTechnology: Loads.
* DoNotGoGentle: often with StiffUpperLip.
* DyingRace: Arrietty is afraid that Borrowers may be this.
* TheEdwardianEra: Time period when the series is set.
* FramingDevice: The first, second and third books have framing stories of how the author, as a child, meets and talks to people who knew the Borrowers long ago, but this is dropped for the fourth and fifth book.
* IllBoy: The human boy was in the house because he was recovering from [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheumatic_fever rheumatic fever]], which even to this day is considered a dangerous and chronic disease.
* InsistentTerminology: The Borrowers aren't "thieves".
* {{Lilliputians}}
* LiteraryAgentHypothesis: The story of the Borrowers is presented as something told to the author when she was a child (she gives her younger self the name "Kate," to distance herself from the [[TakeThatMe "wild, untidy, self-willed little girl who stared with angry eyes and was said to crunch her teeth"]] she apparently was back then), and which she wrote down for her own children when she was an adult. This is most clear in the first three books, where the FramingDevice is the story of how "Kate" meets and talks to old people who either met or were told of the Borrowers in their youths. The latter books (and almost all the adaptations) drop this device, but still include people who could conceivably have talked to "Kate" many years later and told her the story.
* MouseWorld
* NoNameGiven: The human boy who befriends the Clock family.
* PosthumousCharacter: Within the FramingDevice story, ''all'' of the major characters might be considered this, since the main story takes place so long ago -- though only the Boy (who was the younger brother of Mrs. May, who first tells "Kate" the story of the Borrowers) is actually confirmed to have died; the Borrowers themselves simply left and were never seen again.
** Within the main story of the first book, several Borrower families are described -- all gone by now. The PosthumousCharacter who gets the most attention, however, is Arrietty's cousin Eggletina -- it was her death that caused Uncle Hendreary and his family to leave the house for good. [[spoiler: However, this is {{Subverted}} in the second book, when Eggletina proves to be very much alive.]]
* PunnyName: even names are borrowed. There's Stainless, Pod (the plant), Eggletina. Surnames are often where the family lives such as the Clocks or Overmantles.
* ScavengedPunk: As a franchise, ''The Borrowers'' provides what is perhaps the URExample of ScavengedPunk. The family, and borrowers in general, scavenge everything they need from humans and end up building a lot of cool equipment. Movie adaptations have provided some of the best ever visual examples of ScavengedPunk.

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!!Trope examples exclusive to the 1990s TV episodes:

* NamedByTheAdaptation: George, the human boy who befriends the Clock family.

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