Andrew Lang's Fairy Books

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Andrew Lang's Fairy Books
Rumpelstiltskin.jpg
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
Author Andrew Lang
Illustrator Henry J. Ford (and others)
Language English
Genre Fairy tales
Published 1889–1913
No. of books 25

Andrew Lang's Fairy Books are a series of twenty-five collections of true and fictional stories for children, published between 1889 and 1913. The best known books of the series are the twelve collections of fairy tales, 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. As acknowledged in the prefaces, although Lang himself made most of the selections, his wife and other translators did a large portion of the translating and retelling of the actual stories.

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."[1]

The books were primarily illustrated by Henry J. Ford. Lancelot Speed, G. P. Jacomb-Hood, and A. Wallis Mills also contributed some illustrations.[citation needed]

The Fairy Books[edit]

Origin and influence[edit]

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

The most well-known volumes of the series are the twelve Fairy Books, each of which is distinguished by its own color. Although Lang did not collect any fairy tales himself from oral primary sources, only he and Madame d'Aulnoy (1651–1705) have collected tales from such a large variety of sources. These collections have been immensely influential. Lang gave many of the tales their first appearance in English. As acknowledged in the prefaces, although Lang himself made most of the selections, his wife 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 English-Scottish border. At the time he worked, English fairy-tale collections were rare: Dinah Maria Mulock Craik's The Fairy Book (1869) was a lonely precedent. When Lang began his efforts, he "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".[2] 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.[3] 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[edit]

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. When this is "Grimm" or "Madame d'Aulnoy" or attributed to a specific collection, the stories can be tracked down, 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 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, as Lang explained in the prefaces to the books, bowdlerised. J.R.R. Tolkien, in his essay "On Fairy-Stories" (1939) stated that while he appreciated the collections, he 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. Here, unlike "The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body" or other similar stories, the monkey merely claims that his heart is outside his body. However, many fairy tale collectors include tales with no strictly marvelous elements.[citation needed]

Books[edit]

The Blue Fairy Book (1889)[edit]

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.[4] 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)[edit]

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.

The Blue Poetry Book (1891)[edit]

Contains 153 poems by great English and American poets.

The Green Fairy Book (1892)[edit]

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.

The True Story Book (1893)[edit]

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

The Yellow Fairy Book (1894)[edit]

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.

The Red True Story Book (1895)[edit]

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)[edit]

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)[edit]

Forty-one Japanese, Scandinavian, and Sicilian tales.

The Arabian Nights' Entertainments (1898)[edit]

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 Calenders, Sons of Kings, and of Five Ladies of Bagdad
  • The Story of the First Calender, 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 Colia, 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)[edit]

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)[edit]

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

First edition, 1900

The Violet Fairy Book (1901)[edit]

Roumania, 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.

Second edition, 1902

The Book of Romance (1902)[edit]

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.

The Crimson Fairy Book (1903)[edit]

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

First edition, 1903

The Brown Fairy Book (1904)[edit]

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)[edit]

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)[edit]

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
First edition, 1906

The Olive Fairy Book (1907)[edit]

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
First edition, 1907

The Book of Princes and Princesses (1908)[edit]

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

The Red Book of Heroes (1909)[edit]

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

The Lilac Fairy Book (1910)[edit]

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

The All Sorts of Stories Book (1911)[edit]

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

The Book of Saints and Heroes (1912)[edit]

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

The Strange Story Book (1913)[edit]

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[edit]

  1. ^ Anita Silvey, Children's Books and Their Creators, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995; p. 387.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ http://www.mythfolklore.net/andrewlang/blue.htm

External links[edit]