"Would I had phrases that are not known, utterances that are strange, in new language that has not been used, free from repetition, not an utterance which has grown stale, which men of old have spoken.” – Khakheperresenb.
Ironically these words by an Egyptian scribe, on a papyrus dated from around 2000 BC, are one of the earliest surviving texts we have.
For that matter, the story of Gilgamesh was already a millennium old by the time the "standard version," the text known to us, was carved onto clay tablets. And you thought Batman had been done to death...
My daughter's favorite author right now is Edward Eager, a man who wrote his children's books in unashamed imitation of E. Nesbit's. Just so you know what I mean by “unashamed,” the first in the series starts with a group of children sitting around glumly – they've just finished reading E. Nesbit, and are wondering why they never get to make magic wishes that come true... then suddenly they do...
As a small boy I commenced writing a novel utterly indebted to Helen Cresswell's Bagthorpe Saga; a few years later, I started writing a book equally derivative of P.G. Wodehouse -- by far my favorite author when I was thirteen. These manuscripts never got past the first few chapters. Wouldn't there be something beautiful, though, about basking in another writer's glory in this way, inhabiting another's universe for one's whole career?
My daughter got some E. Nesbit books for her birthday, and curiously, she now tells me that, on a scale of 1 to 10, she ranks E. Nesbit as a 7 -- she ranks J.K. Rowling as a 7 too -- but she ranks Edward Eager as a 10. Maybe just because his kids talk American? Maybe because she discovered him before she discovered E. Nesbit?
“It's not who does it first, it's who does it second.” -- I think David Bowie said this in an interview once.