The Borrowers is one of the foremost books in the genre of children's fantasy literature although the book's author, Mary Norton, never intended it to be a book for children but "for people". The Borrowers takes the reader into the under-the-floorboards world of Pod, Homily and Arrietty Clock, whose secret home is under the kitchen of an English country house. Whatever they need, they "borrow" from the "human beans" who live above them. The Borrowers are miniature folk who live a comfortable life, until Arrietty decides to explore the house above and ends up getting "seen" by a human. This puts the family's existence in jeopardy and their only hope is help from a human boy who seems to identify more with the Clocks than with his own family.
Mary Norton was already a successful author when The Borrowers was published and was actually descended from the poet Edmund Spenser. She wrote The Magic Bedknob and its sequel, Bedknob and Broomstick, as a way to put food on her family's table, understanding completely the ethic of the Borrowers. Her talent was on creating characters realistic enough that the reader believes they might actually exist, and making them small and vulnerable enough for children to relate to.
The Borrowers earned the prestigious Carnegie Medal in Great Britain, and much critical acclaim from American critics. The original Borrowers book was followed by The Borrowers Aloft and several other novels, completing the series on 1982 when The Borrowers Avenged was published over twenty one years after the tiny characters were first introduced.