Title: The Blue Fairy Book
Author: Andrew Lang (ed & trans), Charles van Sandwyk (illus), Joan Aiken (intro)
Publisher: The Folio Society, 2003
Condition: Hardcover, decorative cloth. New, with very slight shelf wear from shipping on slipcase. Bound in full cloth blocked in four colours with a design by the artist.
Set in Founder’s Caslon, with a hand-drawn title page.
This wonderful collection of fairy stories, put together by Andrew Lang at the end of the 19th century, gathers many of the best loved tales of childhood – ‘Old stories’, Lang calls them in his preface, ‘that have pleased so many generations’. They include the best of the English tradition, favourites from Grimm, Perrault, The Arabian Nights and Gulliver’s Travels, as well as lesser-known tales and new re-tellings, such as Lang’s own ‘The Terrible Head’ based on the Greek myth of Perseus and the Gorgon.
Reared on border ballads told by his old nurse, Lang was reading by the age of four and devoured ‘every fairy tale I could lay my hands on’. He was enthralled by trolls and witches, and stories of changelings and devilish hunts. Later the tales of Shakespeare, Homer and Dickens were to fire his imagination.
The Blue Fairy Book – so popular in its day that it went on to launch a series – has all the ingredients one would expect: the bewitched and the beautiful, the fearful and the brave. The good are as truehearted as they are fair, as heroic as they are handsome, but not everyone lives happily ever after, and even the prettiest of princesses cannot be happy if she forgets to keep her word.