Thursday 10 January 2008

The Age of Enchantment

Once upon a time
there was a little girl who loved fairy stories.

Annie French A Fairy Tale (detail)

Her mother bought three beautiful pictures
and hung them on the wall above her bed.
Every morning when she woke up
she saw the Dulac illustration of

Edmund Dulac She made her escape as lightly as a deer 1910

She was lucky enough to have a collection
of beautiful editions of fairy stories
some of which had belonged to her great-grandparents
and when she was a bit older she would lie in bed
and read the stories over and over again.

Arthur Rackham, RI Goblin Market (detail) 1933

Even when she was almost grown up she still read fairy stories
but now she was very knowledgeable.
She knew about myths and legends;
the tales of Hans Christian Andersen,
the Brothers Grimm and Oscar Wilde.

Laurence Housman The House of Joy (detail) 1895

She knew about the development of children's literature
in the Victorian era and even about
the fashion for illustrated books in the early twentieth century.

Edmund Dulac The Ice Maiden 1915

And so it was that one cold January day
this little girl took her mother to the far side of the world
(well, that is what Dulwich feels like on a cold January day)
She had seen many of them before in the books that she had read
and it was like greeting old friends.

Kay Nielsen The Dancing Princesses 1912

Her mother watched her enjoy the exhibition
and realised that now her daughter knew much more
about these stories and illustrations than she did.

Which is a happy ending.

Edmund Dulac Circe 1911


Lina said...

Oh I'm enchanted! What magical pictures and words. I feel that I may have failed miserably by introducing my daughter to those hideous Rainbow/Gem fairy books. Any good ideas for something more classic for a 5 year old?

BreadBox said...

How delightful! And how lovely to discover that she now knows more than you about these wonderful pieces of art that are so very much a part of her:-)


Mary said...

The illustrations are so beautiful. I think I may have to do a little research myself into these illustrators you refer to.

dragonfly said...

Beautiful, beautiful illustrations. They have brightened my morning.
Thank you for your good luck wishes too...

Anonymous said...

What does your daughter think to the Andrew Lang collections? The Yellow Fairy Book was always my favourite with the frightening story of the Witch in the Stone Boat.

Marmadaisy said...

Wow what a beautiful story. And pictures, thanks so much. Goblin Market is one of my favourite poems.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tale, Alice. Thanks for sharing.

tess said...

oh dear, I feel that I too, like lina have only so far introduced modern fairy nonsense, and need to expose Miss K to the classics, the illustrations are wonderful, it must have been a great exhibition!

do you mind if i knit said...

Magical! It's at times like these, I wish I lived closer to London.
Thanks for the mini private view!

Unknown said...

Alice, what an exquisite combination of words and pictures! You've created a little piece of enchantment for us.

carrie said...

There is nothing better than a beloved children's literature book with beautiful illustrations . . . well, except seeing them in person!

Sounds enchanting!

Unknown said...

Nice. I grew up loving those stories and pictures as well. How nice.