Wainscot (fiction)

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In fantasy fiction, a wainscot is a society concealed ("hidden in the wainscotting") and secretly working in the real world. The term was first coined by The Encyclopedia of Fantasy in 1997.[1]

Such concealed societies typically have a special insight into the mechanics of the world, such as an understanding of magical forces or knowledge of supernatural beings. Wainscot societies may seek to hide this information from outsiders, or they may be disbelieved due to ignorance, conspiracies, or consensus reality.

A significant feature of wainscot fiction is that it does not take place in fantasy realms only accessible via some kind of magical portal (e.g. Narnia). Wainscot stories involve hidden parts of the familiar, mundane world. In horror-tinged works of fantasy, such as H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, the Buffyverse, or White Wolf Games' World of Darkness setting, the majority's ignorance of the true horrors of their world may seem like a blessing.

In C.S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength it is disclosed that from the death of King Arthur up to the time of writing in the 1940s, there had been an unbroken line of Pendragons living secretly in Britain, the Pendragon in each generation gathering around himself a small band of loyal followers and in times of crisis acting secretly to save the country from various perils—with Britons unaware of how much they owed to this secret group.


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  1. ^ Clute, John; Grant, John. "Encyclopedia of Fantasty". Retrieved 11 August 2014.