Fantasy is a genre of literature that features magical and supernatural elements that do not exist in the real world. Although some writers juxtapose a real-world setting with fantastical elements, many create entirely imaginary universes with their own physical laws and logic and populations of imaginary races and creatures. Speculative in nature, fantasy is not tied to reality or scientific fact.
Scottish author George MacDonald, whose novel Phantastes (1858) features a young man drawn into a dream world where he has a series of adventures, is credited with writing the first plainly fictitious fantasy for adults. Englishman William Morris, who’s known for medieval fantasy and specifically his novel The Well at the World’s End (1896), subsequently broke ground in the genre by completely inventing a fantasy world that existed beyond the known world.
Building upon the legacies of MacDonald and Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien penned the first high fantasy, The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955). Both creatively and commercially successful, the epic ushered the genre into the mainstream and influenced countless writers, making Tolkien the undisputed father of modern fantasy.