Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Bedknob and Broomstick

Go To

A duology of children's fantasy novels by Mary Norton (who also wrote The Borrowers.)

The individual novels are The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons and Bonfires and Broomsticks. They are commonly republished in a single volume as Bedknob and Broomstick.note 

The series inspired the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Bedknob and Broomstick provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Title: Bedknob And Broomstick.
  • Apothecary Alligator:
    • Miss Price's workroom includes "a small stuffed alligator, which hung by two wires from the ceiling."
      "What are alligators used for, Miss Price?" asked Paul.
      Again Miss Price's long training in truthfulness overcame her longing to impress. "Nothing much," she said. "They're out of date now. I like to have it there for the look of it."
    • Later, the children are thrilled to learn that Emelius's workroom has one.
  • Burn the Witch!: Emelius's proposed fate when he returns to the 17th century to learn that his house escaped the Great London Fire. He's first subjected to the dunking stool (he survives because his heavy robes trapped air inside of them), then sentenced to burn at the stake.
  • Captured by Cannibals: The dramatic confrontation in the first book involves this, complete with large cookpot.
  • Correspondence Course: This is how Miss Price is studying magic.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: Miss Price fends off the cannibal's shaman through a dance-off mixed with magic.
  • Flying Broomstick: Miss Price feels that it is very traditional. The children first discover that she is a witch when they help her to recover from a flying accident she had with one.
  • Forced Transformation: Miss Price briefly turns Charles into a frog.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Miss Price and Emelius had known each other only a little more than a week before they decided to marry.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: When originally published in 1944, The Magic Bed Knob contained several references to World War II, with the children being Blitz Evacuees. In 1957, the text was altered to remove all references to the war, apparently in an effort to make the story less dated, and this is mostly the version that's been reprinted ever since. Despite this, the 1971 Disney adaptation retains the original World War II setting.
  • Left Hanging: The end of the second book has Miss Price in the 17th century and the children telling stories about how Miss Price is likely doing. Then, they hear her voice out of thin air asking them to get out of the cabbages and the book ends.
  • Phony Psychic: Emelius does not learn until his master is on his deathbed that none of the magic he had been taught was valid.
  • Stewed Alive: When the children visit a South Seas island, they are captured and put into a cooking pot by the natives.
  • Time-Travel Romance: At the end of Bonfires and Brooksticks, Miss Price decides to return to the 17th century with Emelius.
  • Wizard Workshop: Miss Price's workroom includes a zodiacal chart, a sheep's skull, a chocolate box full of dried mice, herbs both in dried bunches and growing in pots, and a small stuffed alligator hanging by wires from the ceiling. She admits that the latter doesn't serve any particular purpose and the habit's out of date, but she likes the way it looks.