Victorian Fairy Tales

ISBN : 9780198737599

Michael Newton
496 Pages
135 x 195 mm
Pub date
May 2016
Oxford World's Classics


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  • A delightful anthology of fairy tales from the close of the Romantic period to the early twentieth century, showing the extraordinary imaginative diversity of the genre and the Victorian fascination with fairyland.
  • Authors range from those best-known for their work as writers of fairy tales, and others central to the nineteenth-century literary canon such as Thackeray and Ford Madox Ford.
  • Includes a selection of original illustrations by some of the greatest figures of Victorian art such as Richard Doyle, Arthur Hughes, and Walter Crane.
  • The Introduction explores the impulses behind the stories and their connection to national identity and debates over scepticism and belief, their centrality to the literary output of the period and interest in the irrational and dreaming mind.
  • Includes historically informed notes and biographies of the authors, a chronology of Victorian fairy tales, and an appendix in which some of the included authors discuss the nature of fairy tale and its importance.

'The Queen and the bat had been talking a good deal that afternoon...'
The Victorian fascination with fairyland vivified the literature of the period, and led to some of the most imaginative fairy tales ever written. They offer the shortest path to the age's dreams, desires, and wishes. Authors central to the nineteenth-century canon such as W. M. Thackeray, Oscar Wilde, Ford Madox Ford, and Rudyard Kipling wrote fairy tales, and authors primarily famous for their work in the genre include George MacDonald, Juliana Ewing, Mary De Morgan, and Andrew Lang. This anthology brings together fourteen of the best stories, by these and other outstanding practitioners, to show the vibrancy and variety of the form and its abilities to reflect our deepest concerns.
In tales of whimsy and romance, witty satire and uncanny mystery, love, suffering, family and the travails of identity are imaginatively explored. Michael Newton's introduction and notes provide illuminating contextual and biographical information about the authors and the development of the literary fairy tale. A selection of original illustrations is also included.
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Note on the Texts
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of the Victorian Fairy Tale
PROLOGUE: Grimm, 'Rumpel-Stilts-Kin' and Hans Christian Andersen, 'The Princess and the Peas'
ROBERT SOUTHEY, 'The Story of the Three Bears'
JOHN RUSKIN, 'The King of the Golden River'
DINAH MULOCK CRAIK, 'The Little Lame Prince and His Travelling Cloak'
MARY DE MORGAN, 'The Wanderings of Arasmon'
JULIANA HORATIA EWING, 'The First Wife's Wedding Ring'
OSCAR WILDE, 'The Selfish Giant'
ANDREW LANG, 'Prince Prigio'
FORD MADOX FORD, 'The Queen Who Flew'
LAURENCE HOUSMAN, 'The Story of the Herons'
KENNETH GRAHAME, 'The Reluctant Dragon'
E. NESBIT, 'Melisande'
RUDYARD KIPLING, 'Dymchurch Flit'
APPENDIX: What is a Fairy Tale?'
John Ruskin, 'Introduction' to German Popular Tales
Juliana Horatia Ewing, 'Preface' to Old-Fashioned Fairy Tales
George MacDonald, 'The Fantastic Imagination'
Laurence Housman, 'Introduction' to Gammer Grethel's Fairy Tales
Explanatory Notes

About the author: 

Edited by Michael Newton, Senior Lecturer, Department of English, University of Leiden
Michael Newton has taught at University College London, Princeton University, and Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design, and now works at Leiden University. He is the author of Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children (Faber, 20002), Age of Assassins: A History of Conspiracy and Poltical Violence, 1865-1981 (Faber, 2012) and a book on Kind Hearts and Coronets for the BFI Film Classics series. He has edited Edmund Gosse's Father and Son for Oxford World's Classics, and The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories and Conrad's The Secret Agent for Penguin. He has written and reviewed for theTimes Literary Supplement, London Review of Books, the New Statesman, and The Guardian.

"Whimsical or romantic, sharply satirical or fogged with mystery, these powerful tales by the likes of Thackeray, Wilde and doyenne of the genre Mary De Morgan probe the deepest human concerns, while reflecting the more of the period." - JC, The Lady

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