Mary Eliza Isabella Frere (1845–1911) was an English author of works regarding India. In 1868 Frere published the first English-language field-collected book of Indian storytales, Old Deccan Days.
Frere was born in Gloucestershire, England on 11 August 1845. Her father, Henry Bartle Frere, served in the colonial administration of Bombay since 1834. In 1862 he was appointed Governor of Bombay.
Frere published several poems and a play. Her most popular work was Old Deccan Days; or, Hindoo Fairy Legends, Current in Southern India. Collected From Oral Tradition, printed in 1868. According to Frere's introduction, she began her collection of Indian folklore during long travels with her father. Her only female companion was a local ayah named Anna Liberata de Souza. She was a Christian descendant of the Lingaet caste from the Mahratta country. What started as an idle conversation evolved into a thorough recording and study of Indian culture. German orientologist Max Müller reviewed Frere's collection and wrote that her rendition of Sanskrit originals read like a direct translation of ancient Sanskrit. Frere's father assisted with the editing of the work and wrote an introduction to the first edition of Old Deccan Days. The extensive background and 'Narrator's Narrative' supplied in the work is unusual for the period, placing the tales in the context of the difficult life of the teller. The book was a success, by the time of the third English edition (1881) it was printed in German, Hungarian, Danish, Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati languages.
Though Indian fairy tales are the earliest in existence, yet they are also from another point of view the youngest. For it is only about twenty-five years ago that Miss Frere began the modern collection of Indian folk-tales with her charming "Old Deccan Days".
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- Dorson, R. M. (1999). History of British folklore. Taylor and Francis. ISBN 0-415-20476-3. p. 334.
- "Mary Frere (Overview)". Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Online. 2006. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- Dorson, p. 335.
- Haase, Donald (2008). "South Asian Tales". The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales Q–Z. Greenwood. p. 899.
- Jacobs, Joseph (1892). Indian Fairy Tales. London: D. Nutt. p. x.
- Raza, Rosemary Cargill (Sept 2004). "‘Frere, Mary Eliza Isabella [May] (1845–1911)’". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 31 July 2010.