From the Kid Blog at Miss Missy’s School where Marica talks with kids (and their grownups) about reading and writing. Your comments are most welcome.
Original illustrations by Richard Doyle (published 1869)
Princess Nobody written in 1884 by Andrew Lang to accompany Doyle’s reissued illustrations
Published by Charles Longman, London, 1884.
This is our third fairy-tale post, and it will be a short one because I’m still exploring the land of fairy-tales.
I’d like introduce Andrew Lang (1844-1912), author of In Fairyland. More than anyone, Lang was responsible for making fairy-tales popular with children, and grownups as well, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He’s most famous for a series of 12 Fairy Books which were titled using color names. The first of these was The Blue Fairy Book (1889), the last, The Lilac Fairy Book (1910). Unlike In Fairyland, Lang did not write the tales in the Fairy Books of Colors, though. He collected the folk tales–some published and some only still passed down as spoken stories–from all around the world. Together with his wife, they translated the tales into English and then published them.
Do you remember at the end of the second fairy-tale post, “Olden Tales | Fairy Tales,” I said,
You’d be surprised to learn how many people in those three-hundred years have become interested in, and have done a lot of serious exploring and research on, fairy-tales. In the next post about fairy-tales, we’re going to meet a scholar from modern times who took a deep interest in fairy-tales and published 12 famous fairy-tale books for children.
Andrew Lang is one of those modern scholars. He wrote many many tales and stories for children. He also conducted serious research on the Greek poet, Homer, but that’s another story.
There’s another scholar, too, whose name I am certain you know very well–J.R.R. Tolkien! Next time we’ll talk more about what Lang learned from his exploration and study of fairy-tales from around the world, and what Tolkien learned and thought about this kind of folk tale.
I’ll end with this thought. When we talked about Charles Kingsley’s fairy-tale, The Water-babies, we looked at four different artists’ illustrations, and discussed how each had interpreted the same story differently. Almost all books begin with the story, and the illustrations come after it’s written. In Fairlyland is different. All of Doyle’s illustrations were published in 1869, and they were accompanied by a poem. But the original In Failyland wasn’t for children (and the poem wasn’t very good).
When the publisher wanted to bring the illustrations back into circulation, he asked Lang to write a story based on them. Lang’s story was “Princess Nobody.” But how many stories do you think could have been written based on the very same pictures? Take a look at the picture below. Can you make up a story to go along with it?