Ships fly, cabbages turn men into donkeys, a childless couple is sent a baby boy the size of a hazelnut, and a dog, a cat and a mouse join forces to retrieve a magic ring. Amongst the 48 stories in The Yellow Fairy Book are much loved classics such as ‘Thumbelina’ and ‘The Steadfast Tin Soldier’, but in this volume Lang also included wonderfully exotic tales from Russia, Hungary, Iceland and America.
This edition is decorated with Danuta Meyer’s pen-and-ink drawings, and her exquisite and arresting watercolour illustrations are full of surprises. They remind us that although fairy tales are full of wonder, for every fairy godmother there is a witch waiting in the wings, for every gorgeous jewel there is a toxic comb and for every ‘happily ever after’ there is a sad ending.
Andrew Lang began gathering fairy tales in the late 19th century with the aim of conserving ‘the old stories that have pleased so many generations’.
Conjuring a universe where stepmothers are invariably wicked, ogres have insatiable appetites and heroes face impossible odds, these stories can arouse fear and apprehension, yet evoke a spirit of wonder and adventure which remains the key to their universal appeal.
‘Once upon a time…’ For readers everywhere, these familiar words hold the promise of transport to a land full of marvels and magic, a world of enchanted forests and cobwebbed castles, of giants, witches, kidnapped princesses and caskets brimming with precious gems; a world of startling contrasts, where fate can deal a cruel blow yet wishes can also come true. Andrew Lang’s Rainbow Fairy Books remain the greatest collection of such tales in the English language, celebrated for their breadth, variety, and clear, lively prose.