Puck of Pook's Hill is a fantasy book, containing a series of short stories set in different periods of English history. It can count both as historical fantasy - since some of the stories told of the past have clear magical elements, and as contemporary fantasy - since it depicts a magical being active and practicing his magic in the England of the early 1900s when the book was written. The stories are all narrated to two children living near Burwash, in the area of Kipling's own house Bateman's, by people magically plucked out of history by the elf Puck, or told by Puck himself. (Puck, who refers to himself as "the oldest Old Thing in England", is better known as a character in William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream.) The genres of particular stories range from authentic historical novella (A Centurion of the Thirtieth, On the Great Wall) to children's fantasy (Dymchurch Flit). Each story is bracketed by a poem which relates in some manner to the theme or subject of the story. Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He wrote tales and poems of British soldiers in India and stories for children. He is regarded as a major innovator in the art of the short story; his children's books are classics of children's literature; and one critic described his work as exhibiting "a versatile and luminous narrative gift".