Anne Robinson, Karen Saxby
This captivating image comes from the first edition of Scottish poet and anthropologist Andrew Lang’s The Violet Fairy Book. Compiled in 1901 by Lang, illustrated by Henry Justice Ford and published under the editorial direction of Lang’s wife, Leonora Alleyne, the book was one in a twelve-part series known as Lang’s Fairy Books, with each book named for the colour of its fairy.
Andrew Lang (1844–1912) was a Scottish poet, novelist, literary critic and anthropologist, though he is best remembered as a collector of folk and fairy tales. Lang was greatly passionate about folklore, mythology and religion, and especially fascinated by mystical tales from other cultures.
It was this passion that led him to compile a collection of books known as Lang’s Fairy Books, which featured illustrations by Henry Justice Ford (1860–1941). Ford, a prolific and successful English artist and illustrator, captured the imagination of children around the world through his collaborations with not only Lang, but J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan), too.
Lang and Ford’s Fairy Books became a sensation among British schoolchildren and were sold internationally. Lang selected and edited 25 collections in total, beginning with the Blue Fairy Book in 1889 and ending with The Strange Story Book in 1913. Of those 25 books, 12 became a special series known as Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books of Many Colours, with each book named for the colour of the featured fairy.
Our Violet Fairy journal reproduces the front cover of Lang’s Violet Fairy Book. Published in 1901, his Violet Fairy Book includes stories such as “The Story of the Wonderful Beggars,” “The Lute Player” and “The Princess Who Was Hidden Underground.” The stories were gathered from places like Romania, Japan, Lithuania, Portugal and Russia. Here, Ford’s Violet Fairy illustration has a classical and timeless quality, perfect for a book that continues to be loved by young and old alike.
May the Violet Fairy bring a hint of vintage whimsy to your writings.