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SPOTLIGHT: A Brief History of Fairy Tales

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A BRIEF HISTORY OF FAIRY TALES

For your enjoyment ...  a brief history of fairy tales!



Myth, Legend & Fairy Tale

The differences between myth, legend, fairy tale & fable can be can simply described as:

Myths: narratives about immortal or supernatural protagonists
Legends: narratives about extraordinary protagonists
Fairy Tales: narratives about ordinary protagonists
Fables: narratives with animal protagonists which convey a moral


History of Fairy Tales

Fairy Tales have their roots in ancient oral storytelling traditions.
 
All cultures have their own myths & legends. Many fairy tales wear ‘the easy doublet’ of myth.
 
A.D. 100-200, Ancient Greece – “Cupid and Psyche” written by Apuleius 

A.D. 850-860, China - The first known version of “Cinderella” is written


C. 1300 – Troubadours and travelling storytellers spread tales throughout medieval Europe 

C. 1500 - One Thousand and One Arabian Nights is first recorded 

1550 & 1553, Italy - Gianfrancesco Straparola publishes The Pleasant Nights - he has been called the 'grandfather of fairy tales'

1600s, Italy - Giambattista Basile writes The Tale of Tales – published posthumously in 1634. This contains 'Petrosinella', the earliest known version of 'Rapunzel' 



1690-1710  - The French Salons invented and played with fairy tales - Marie-Catherine D'Aulnoy invented the term 'conte de fées'

1697 France - Charles Perrault's Mother Goose Tales is published in Paris 

1697 – Charlotte-Rose de la Force publishes her collection which includes the tale we now know of as “Rapunzel”

1740 France - Gabrielle de Villeneuve writes a 362 page version of “Beauty and the Beast”

 1756 France – Jean-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont publishes much shorter version of “Beauty and the Beast” - first tale written specifically for children.



1812 Germany - Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm publish Vol 1 of Childhood and Household Tales

1823 Great Britain - Edgar Taylor publishes the first English translation of the Grimms' tales in German Popular Stories. The book is illustrated by George Cruikshank

1825 Germany – Grimms’ first edition for children - known as The Small Edition - illustrated by Ludwig Grimm

1835 Denmark - Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales Told for Children

1889 England - Andrew Lang publishes The Blue Fairy Book -  the first multicultural fairy tale collection 


1890 Russia - Tchaikovsky's “The Sleeping Beauty” premieres in St Petersburg 

1893 Great Britain - Marian Roalfe Cox publishes her book, Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes’- the first fairy tale scholarship



1910 Finland - Antti Aarne publishes ‘The Types of the Folktale’. Later, Stith Thompson translates and expands it into English in 1961


1937 United States - Walt Disney's first feature length animated film is released, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs



Now – fairy tales have never been hotter! They dominate our TV and movie screens, and influence advertising, music, and fashion. Plus of course ... fairy tale retellings ...



Fairy Tale Tropes
Pure distillation of plot

Setting is anywhere and nowhere

Traditional sentences & archaic language: Once upon a time ... Long long ago … Once, twice, thrice …. 
‘Abstract style’  - dark forest, brave youth, golden bird

Fairy tale numbers and patterns: the numbers 3 & 7 & 13 i.e. the third sister, the thirteenth fairy

Magic & metamorphosis – talking mirror, prince into frog, girl into bear

Binary oppositions i.e. good & evil, rich & poor, beautiful & ugly, strong & weak

Memorable language i.e. rhythm, rhyme, repetition, alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia 

Motifs & metaphors: ‘the language of the night’

Structure – a series of trials & tribulations (often three)

The Fairy Tale ‘happy ending’ .. 

(Though not all fairy tales end happily. Many of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales are very sad, for example) 



FURTHER READING




BOOK LIST: The most gorgeous fairy tale books in the world

Friday, May 02, 2014

I was asked by a fan to post a blog about my favourite fairy tale picture books absolute ages ago, but I’ve been so busy I simply haven’t had time. 

I thought I’d celebrate the launch of my own fairy tale picture book TWO SELKIE TALES FROM SCOTLAND by doing it now!




I'd love to add to my collection so if you know any other utterly gorgeous illustrated fairy tales, please tell me in the comments so I can add them to my collection. 

Here are my favourites (in no particular order):




This is the most beautiful version of 'The Singing, Springing Lark', the Grimm Brothers' variant of 'Beauty & the Beast'(here titled 'The Lady & the Lion')  - the illustrations are utterly exqusite!




Paul Zelinsky's gorgeous 'Rapunzel' which sets the story in the Italian Renaissance which is, of corue, what I did to in my historical novel BITTER GREENS




More by Paul Zelinsky, one of my favourite children's illustrators - this is a brilliant rendition of 'Rumpelstiltskin'




Paul Zelinsky's 'Hansel & Gretel' - doesn't the witch's cottage look delicious?




My absolute favourite fairy tale artists is K. Y. Craft - I'd give almost anything to have her illustrate one of my books. They are so gorgeous, intricate, mysterious and magical! This one is 'Twelve Dancing Princesses', which is also one of my favourite fairy tales 




A swoon-worthy 'Cinderella' from K.Y. Craft




'Sleeping Beauty'from K. Y. Craft



A lovely version of the 'Tam Lin' ballad, retold by Geraldine McCaughrean and illustrated by Jason Cockcroft - I also have versions of this story by Susan Cooper and Jane Yolen 





This exquisite retelling of 'Persephone' is retold by Sally Pomme Clayton and illustrated by Virginia Lee 






My favourite Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, 'The Snow Queen' is illustrated here by Vladyslav Yerko in a mesmerisingly beautiful edition 




Oscar Wild's fairy tale 'The Happy Prince' is illustrated beautifully by Jane Ray





Finally, this utterly beautiful version of 'Wild Swans', retold by Naomi Lewis and illustrated by Anne Yvonne Gilbert 


PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT - I LOVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!


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