Andrew Lang's Fairy Books

The Lang's Fairy Books are a series of 25 collections of true and fictional stories for children published between 1889 and 1913. The best known books of the series are the 12 collections of fairy tales also known as Andrew Lang's "Coloured" Fairy Books or Andrew Lang's Fairy Books of Many Colors. In all, the volumes feature 798 stories, besides the 153 poems in The Blue Poetry Book.

Andrew Lang (1844–1912) was a Scots poet, novelist, and literary critic. He initially edited the series and wrote prefaces for its entire run, while his wife, the translator and author Leonora Blanche Alleyne, known to friends and family as Nora, assumed editorial control of the series in the 1890s [1]. She and other translators did a large portion of the translating and retelling of the actual stories, as acknowledged in the prefaces. Four of the volumes from 1908 to 1912 were published by "Mrs. Lang".

According to Anita Silvey, "The irony of Lang's life and work is that although he wrote for a profession—literary criticism; fiction; poems; books and articles on anthropology, mythology, history, and travel ... he is best recognized for the works he did not write."[2]

The 12 Coloured Fairy Books were illustrated by H. J. Ford (Henry Justice Ford)—the first two volumes shared with G. P. Jacomb-Hood and Lancelot Speed respectively, and the sequels alone.[3] A. Wallis Mills also contributed some illustrations.

The Langs' Fairy Books
Rumpelstiltskin
Rumpelstiltskin from The Blue Fairy Book, by Henry J. Ford

The Blue Fairy Book
The Red Fairy Book
The Blue Poetry Book
The Green Fairy Book
The True Story Book
The Yellow Fairy Book
The Red True Story Book
The Animal Story Book
The Pink Fairy Book
The Arabian Nights' Entertainments
The Red Book of Animal Stories
The Grey Fairy Book
The Violet Fairy Book
The Book of Romance
The Crimson Fairy Book
The Brown Fairy Book
The Red Romance Book
The Orange Fairy Book
The Olive Fairy Book
The Red Book of Heroes
The Lilac Fairy Book
The All Sorts of Stories Book
The Book of Saints and Heroes
The Strange Story Book
AuthorAndrew Lang
IllustratorHenry J. Ford (and others)
LanguageEnglish
GenreFairy tales
Published1889–1913
No. of books25

The Fairy Books

Origin and influence

Illustration by H. J. Ford for Andrew Lang's The Orange Fairy Book
"The Crown Returns to the Queen of the Fishes". Illustration by H. J. Ford for Andrew Lang's The Orange Fairy Book

The best-known volumes of the series are the 12 Fairy Books, each of which is distinguished by its own color. The Langs did not collect any fairy tales from oral primary sources, yet only they and Madame d'Aulnoy (1651–1705) have collected tales from such a large variety of sources. These collections have been immensely influential; the Langs gave many of the tales their first appearance in English. Andrew selected the tales for the first four books, while Nora took over the series thereafter.[4] She and other translators did a large portion of the translating and retelling of the actual stories.

Lang's urge to gather and publish fairy tales was rooted in his own experience with the folk and fairy tales of his home territory along the Anglo-Scottish border. British fairy tale collections were rare at the time; Dinah Craik's The Fairy Book (1869) was a lonely precedent. According to Roger Lancelyn Green, Lang "was fighting against the critics and educationists of the day" who judged the traditional tales' "unreality, brutality, and escapism to be harmful for young readers, while holding that such stories were beneath the serious consideration of those of mature age".[5] Over a generation, Lang's books worked a revolution in this public perception.

The series was immensely popular, helped by Lang's reputation as a folklorist and by the packaging device of the uniform books. The series proved of great influence in children's literature, increasing the popularity of fairy tales over tales of real life.[6] It inspired such imitators as English Fairy Tales (1890) and More English Fairy Tales (1894) by Joseph Jacobs. Other followers included the American The Oak-Tree Fairy Book (1905), The Elm-Tree Fairy Book (1909), and The Fir-Tree Fairy Book (1912) series edited by Clifton Johnson, and the collections of Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith.

Sources

Some of Lang's collected stories were included without any attribution at all (e.g., "The Blue Mountains"), and the rest are listed with brief notes. The sources can be tracked down when given as "Grimm" or "Madame d'Aulnoy" or attributed to a specific collection, but other notes are less helpful. For instance, "The Wonderful Birch" is listed only as "from the Russo-Karelian". Lang repeatedly explained in the prefaces that the tales which he told were all old and not his, and that he found new fairy tales no match for them:

But the three hundred and sixty-five authors who try to write new fairy tales are very tiresome. They always begin with a little boy or girl who goes out and meets the fairies of polyanthuses and gardenias and apple blossoms: "Flowers and fruits, and other winged things". These fairies try to be funny, and fail; or they try to preach, and succeed. Real fairies never preach or talk slang. At the end, the little boy or girl wakes up and finds that he has been dreaming.

Such are the new fairy stories. May we be preserved from all the sort of them!

The collections were specifically intended for children and were bowdlerised, as Lang explained in his prefaces. J. R. R. Tolkien stated in his essay "On Fairy-Stories" (1939) that he appreciated the collections but objected to his editing the stories for children. He also criticized Lang for including stories without magical elements in them, with "The Heart of a Monkey" given as an example, where the monkey claims that his heart is outside his body, unlike "The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body" or other similar stories. However, many fairy tale collectors include tales with no strictly marvelous elements.

Books

The Blue Fairy Book (1889)

The first edition consisted of 5000 copies, which sold for 6 shillings each. The book assembled a wide range of tales, with seven from the Brothers Grimm, five from Madame d'Aulnoy, three from the Arabian Nights, and four Norwegian fairytales, among other sources.[7] The Blue Fairy Book was the first volume in the series, and so it contains some of the best known tales, taken from a variety of sources.

Media related to Blue Fairy Book at Wikimedia Commons

The Red Fairy Book (1890)

It appeared at Christmas 1890 in a first printing of 10,000 copies. Sources include French, Russian, Danish, and Romanian tales as well as Norse mythology.

Media related to The Red Fairy Book at Wikimedia Commons

The Blue Poetry Book (1891)

Contains 153 poems by great British and American poets.

The Green Fairy Book (1892)

Green Fairy Book 1892 Cover
First edition, 1892

In his Preface to this volume, Lang expressed the view that it would be "probably the last" of the collection. Their continuing popularity, however, demanded subsequent collections. In The Green Fairy Book, the third in the series, Lang has assembled stories from Spanish and Chinese traditions.

Media related to Green Fairy Book at Wikimedia Commons

The True Story Book (1893)

Contains twenty-four true stories, mainly drawn from European history.

Media related to The true story book (1893) at Wikimedia Commons

The Yellow Fairy Book (1894)

Yellow Fairy Book 1894
First edition, 1894

Its initial printing was 15,000 copies. The Yellow Fairy Book is a collection of tales from all over the world. It features many tales from Hans Christian Andersen.

Media related to The yellow fairy book (1906) at Wikimedia Commons

The Red True Story Book (1895)

Contains thirty true stories, mainly drawn from European history. Includes the life of Joan of Arc and the Jacobite uprising of 1745.

The Animal Story Book (1896)

Contains sixty-five stories about animals. Some of them are simple accounts of how animals live in the wild. Others are stories about pets, or remarkable wild animals, or about hunting expeditions. Many are taken from Alexandre Dumas.

The Pink Fairy Book (1897)

Forty-one Japanese, Scandinavian, and Sicilian tales.

Media related to The pink fairy book (1897) at Wikimedia Commons

The Arabian Nights' Entertainments (1898)

Contains thirty-four stories from the Arabian Nights, adapted for children. The story of Aladdin is in this volume as well as in the Blue Fairy Book.

  • The Arabian Nights
  • The Story of the Merchant and the Genius
  • The Story of the First Old Man and of the Hind
  • The Story of the Second Old Man, and of the Two Black Dogs
  • The Story of the Fisherman
  • The Story of the Greek King and the Physician Douban
  • The Story of the Husband and the Parrot
  • The Story of the Vizir Who Was Punished
  • The Story of the Young King of the Black Isles
  • The Story of the Three Calendars, Sons of Kings, and of Five Ladies of Bagdad
  • The Story of the First Calendar, Son of a King
  • The Story of the Envious Man and of Him Who Was Envied
  • The Story of the Second Calendar, Son of a King
  • The Story of the Third Calendar, Son of a King
  • The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor
  • First Voyage
  • Second Voyage
  • Third Voyage
  • Fourth Voyage
  • Fifth Voyage
  • Sixth Voyage
  • Seventh and Last Voyage
  • The Little Hunchback
  • The Story of the Barber's Fifth Brother
  • The Story of the Barber's Sixth Brother
  • The Adventures of Prince Camaralzaman and the Princess Badoura
  • Noureddin and the Fair Persian
  • Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
  • The Adventures of Haroun-al-Raschid, Caliph of Bagdad
  • The Story of the Blind Baba-Abdalla
  • The Story of Sidi-Nouman
  • The Story of Ali Cogia, Merchant of Bagdad
  • The Enchanted Horse
  • The Story of Two Sisters Who Were Jealous of Their Younger Sister

The Red Book of Animal Stories (1899)

Contains forty-six stories about real and mythical animals. Some of them are simple accounts of how animals live in the wild. Others are stories about pets, or remarkable wild animals, or about hunting expeditions.

The Grey Fairy Book (1900)

Thirty-five stories, many from oral traditions, and others from French, German and Italian collections.

Grey Fairy Book 1900
First edition, 1900

The Violet Fairy Book (1901)

Romania, Japan, Serbia, Lithuania, Africa, Portugal, and Russia are among the sources of these 35 stories that tell of a haunted forest, chests of gold coins, a magical dog, and a man who outwits a dragon.

Violet Fairy Book 1902
Second edition, 1902

Media related to The Violet Fairy Book at Wikimedia Commons

The Book of Romance (1902)

Contains nineteen stories from various medieval and Renaissance romances of chivalry, adapted for children. Includes stories about King Arthur, Charlemagne, William of Orange, and Robin Hood.

Media related to The book of romance (1902) at Wikimedia Commons

The Crimson Fairy Book (1903)

These 36 stories originated in Hungary, Russia, Finland, Iceland, Tunisia, the Baltic, and elsewhere.

Crimson Fairy Book 1903
First edition, 1903

The Brown Fairy Book (1904)

The Brown Fairy Book contains stories from the American Indians, Australian Bushmen and African Kaffirs, and from Persia, Lapland, Brazil, and India.

Spine of first edition, 1904

Media related to Brown Fairy Book at Wikimedia Commons

The Red Romance Book (1905)

Contains twenty-nine stories from various medieval and Renaissance romances of chivalry, adapted for children. Includes stories about Don Quixote, Charlemagne, Bevis of Hampton and Guy of Warwick.

The Orange Fairy Book (1906)

Includes 33 tales from Jutland, Rhodesia, Uganda, and various other European traditions.

Ian and the Blue Falcon by H. J. Ford for Andrew Lang's The Orange Fairy Book
Ian and the Blue Falcon by H. J. Ford for Andrew Lang's The Orange Fairy Book
Orange Fairy Book 1906
First edition, 1906

The Olive Fairy Book (1907)

The Olive Fairy Book includes unusual stories from Turkey, India, Denmark, Armenia, the Sudan, and the pen of Anatole France.

The Blue Parrot. by H. J. Ford for Andrew Lang's The Olive Fairy Book
The Blue Parrot. by H. J. Ford for Andrew Lang's The Olive Fairy Book
The Olive Fairy Book, Andrew Lang, Cover, 1st edition
First edition, 1907

Media related to The Olive Fairy Book (Andrew Lang) at Wikimedia Commons

The Book of Princes and Princesses (1908)

Published by Longmans as written by "Mrs. Lang"; illustrated by H. J. Ford (LCCN 08-28404).

Contains fourteen stories about the childhoods of European monarchs, including Napoleon, Elizabeth I, and Frederick the Great.

The Red Book of Heroes (1909)

Published by Longmans as written by "Mrs. Lang"; illustrated by H. J. Ford (LCCN 09-17962).

Contains twelve true stories about role models for children, including Hannibal, Florence Nightingale, and Saint Thomas More.

The Lilac Fairy Book (1910)

The Lilac Fairy Book contains stories from Portugal, Ireland, Wales, and points East and West.

The All Sorts of Stories Book (1911)

Published by Longmans as written by "Mrs. Lang"; illustrated by H. J. Ford (LCCN 11-27934).

Contains thirty stories on a variety of subjects, including true stories, Greek myths, and stories from Alexandre Dumas, Walter Scott and Edgar Allan Poe.

The Book of Saints and Heroes (1912)

Published by Longmans as written by "Mrs. Lang"; illustrated by H. J. Ford (LCCN 12-24314).

Contains twenty-three stories about saints. Most of these are true stories, although a few legends are also included.

The Strange Story Book (1913)

Published after Andrew Lang's death, with an introduction by Mrs. Lang. Contains thirty-four stories on a variety of subjects, including ghost stories, Native American legends, true stories, and tales from Washington Irving.

References

  1. ^ Day, Andrea (2017-09-19). ""Almost wholly the work of Mrs. Lang": Nora Lang, Literary Labour, and the Fairy Books". doi:10.1080/09699082.2017.1371938.
  2. ^ Anita Silvey, Children's Books and Their Creators, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995; p. 387.
  3. ^ "Ford, H J". Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997). Entry by RD. Reprint at sf-encyclopedia.uk retrieved 2016-10-31.
  4. ^ Day, Andrea (2017-09-19). ""Almost wholly the work of Mrs. Lang": Nora Lang, Literary Labour, and the Fairy Books". doi:10.1080/09699082.2017.1371938.
  5. ^ Roger Lancelyn Green, "Andrew Lang in Fairyland", in: Sheila Egoff, G. T. Stubbs, and L. F. Ashley, eds., Only Connect: Readings on Children's Literature, New York, Oxford University Press; second edition, 1980; p. 250.
  6. ^ Betsy Hearne, "Booking the Brothers Grimm: Art, Adaptations and Economics", p 221 James M. McGlathery, ed. The Brothers Grimm and Folktale, ISBN 0-252-01549-5
  7. ^ http://www.mythfolklore.net/andrewlang/blue.htm

External links

A Tale of the Tontlawald

A Tale Of The Tontlawald (Estonian: Tontla mets) is an Estonian fairy tale collected by Dr. Friedrich Kreutzwald in Eestirahwa Ennemuistesed jutud. W. F. Kirby included it, as "The Wood of Tontla" in The Hero of Esthonia. Andrew Lang included it in The Violet Fairy Book; he listed his source as Ehstnische Märchen, which was the German translation of Kreutzwald's work, by F. Löwe.

Andrew Lang

Andrew Lang (1844–1912) was a Scottish poet, novelist, literary critic, and contributor to the field of anthropology. He is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales. The Andrew Lang lectures at the University of St Andrews are named after him.

Blockhead Hans

"Blockhead Hans" (Danish: Klods-Hans) is a literary fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.

It was first published in Danish in 1855. An early English translation appeared in Andrew Lang's 1894 The Yellow Fairy Book, although Lang gave no source for the tale.

The tale has been variously translated as "Clumsy Hans", "Silly Hans" and "Jack the Dullard".

It is number 119 in the Hans Christian Andersen's register of Andersen's literary works.

Frederick Richardson

Frederick Richardson (1862 – 15 January 1937) was an American illustrator of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, best remembered for his illustrations of works by L. Frank Baum.

Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald

Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald (26 December [O.S. 14 December] 1803 – 25 August [O.S. 13 August] 1882) was an Estonian writer who is considered to be the father of the national literature for the country. He is the author of Estonian national epic Kalevipoeg.

Henry Justice Ford

Henry Justice Ford (1860–1941) was a prolific and successful English artist and illustrator, active from 1886 through to the late 1920s. Sometimes known as H. J. Ford or Henry J. Ford, he came to public attention when he provided the numerous beautiful illustrations for Andrew Lang's Fairy Books, which captured the imagination of a generation of British children and were sold worldwide in the 1880s and 1890s.

List of 19th-century British children's literature titles

This is a list of 19th-century British children's literature titles, arranged by year of publication.

Mogarzea and his Son

Mogarzea and his Son is a fairy tale included by Andrew Lang in The Violet Fairy Book. The source was Mite Kremnitz, Rumänische Märchen : Mogarzea und sein Sohn

Stan Bolovan

Stan Bolovan is a Romanian fairy tale collected in Rumänische Märchen by Mite Kremnitz (1882). Fairy tale collector Andrew Lang included it in his The Violet Fairy Book (1901). Versions of the tale were later retold by Ruth Manning-Sanders in A Book of Dragons (1965) and A Choice of Magic (1971), and by Christopher Rawson in The Usborne Book of Dragons (1979).

The Boy Who Found Fear At Last

The Boy Who Found Fear At Last is a Turkish fairy tale collected by Ignaz Kunos in Türkische Volksmärchen. Andrew Lang included it in The Olive Fairy Book

The Child who came from an Egg

The Child who came from an Egg or The Egg-Born Princess (Estonian: Munast sündinud kuningatütar) is an Estonian fairy tale, collected by Dr. Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald in Eestirahwa Ennemuistesed jutud. William Forsell Kirby included a synopsis of it in The Hero of Esthonia as "The Egg-Born Princess." Andrew Lang included it as "The Child who came from an Egg" in The Violet Fairy Book; he listed his source as Ehstnische Märchen, which was the German translation of Kreutzwald's work, by F. Löwe.

The Crow (fairy tale)

The Crow is a Slavic fairy tale. Andrew Lang included it in The Yellow Fairy Book.

The Golden Bird

"The Golden Bird" is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, number 57, about the pursuit of a golden bird by a gardener's three sons.A French version, collected by Paul Sébillot in Littérature orale de la Haute-Bretagne, is called Le Merle d'or (The Golden Blackbird). Andrew Lang included that variant in The Green Fairy Book (1892).It is Aarne-Thompson folktale type 550, "The Golden Bird", a Supernatural Helper. Other tales of this type include The Bird 'Grip', The Greek Princess and the Young Gardener, Tsarevitch Ivan, the Fire Bird and the Gray Wolf, How Ian Direach got the Blue Falcon, and The Nunda, Eater of People.

The Lute Player

The Lute Player — or The Tsaritsa Harpist — is a Russian fairy tale. Andrew Lang included it in The Violet Fairy Book (1901).It is Aarne-Thompson type 888 The Faithful Wife.The instrument actually described in the fairy tale is a gusli.

The Nunda, Eater of People

The Nunda, Eater of People is an abridged version of a Swahili fairy tale titled "Sultan Majnun", collected by Edward Steere (1828-1882) in Swahili Tales, as told by natives of Zanzibar (1870). Andrew Lang included it in The Violet Fairy Book (1901).

It is Aarne-Thompson type 550, the quest for the golden bird/firebird.

The Prince Who Wanted to See the World

The Prince Who Wanted to See the World is a Portuguese fairy tale. Andrew Lang included it in The Violet Fairy Book.

The Six Swans

The Six Swans (in German : Die sechs Schwäne) is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm as tale number 49. Andrew Lang included a variant in The Yellow Fairy Book. It is Aarne–Thompson type 451: the brothers who were turned into birds. Other tales of this type include The Magic Swan Geese, The Seven Ravens, The Twelve Wild Ducks, Udea and her Seven Brothers, The Wild Swans, and The Twelve Brothers.

The Three Princes and their Beasts

The Three Princes and their Beasts is a Lithuanian fairy tale included by Andrew Lang in The Violet Fairy Book. The actual source was Von den drei Brüdern und ihren Thieren from August Leskien und K. Brugman, in Litauische Volkslieder und Märchen (1882).

Virgilius the Sorcerer

Virgilius the Sorcerer is a fairy tale about the poet Virgil by Andrew Lang who included it in The Violet Fairy Book.

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