MATILDA'S ears were red and shiny. So were her cheeks. Her hands were red too. This was because Pridmore had washed her. It was not the usual washing, which makes you clean and comfortable, but the "thorough good wash," which makes you burn and smart till you wish you could be like the poor little savages who do not know anything, and run about bare in the sun, and only go into the water when they are hot.
Matilda wished she could have been born in a savage tribe instead of at Brixton. "Little savages," she said, "don't have their ears washed thoroughly, and they don't have new dresses that are prickly in the insides round their arms, and cut them round the neck. Do they, Pridmore?"
Edith Nesbit (married name Edith Bland; 15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924) was an English author and poet; she published her books for children under the name of E. Nesbit. She wrote or collaborated on over 60 books of fiction for children, several of which have been adapted for film and television. She was also a political activist and co-founded the Fabian Society, a socialist organisation later connected to the Labour Party.
Edith Nesbit was born in Kennington, Surrey, the daughter of agricultural chemist and schoolmaster John Collis Nesbit. The death of her father when she was four and the continuing ill health of her sister meant that Nesbit had a transitory childhood, her family moving across Europe in search of healthy climates only to return to England for financial reasons. Nesbit therefore spent her childhood attaining an education from whatever sources were available - local grammars, the occasional boarding school but mainly through reading.