New Read: Victorian Fairy Tales

Victorian Fairy Tales

Over the last few years I have upped my reading of classics, due in large part to The Classics Club, and this has included classic collections of fairy tales and short stories. So when I saw Victorian Fairy Tales edited by Michael Newton for offer I had to give it a go; I thought it sounded just my cup of tea.

Michael Newton has collected together an interesting mixture of fairy tales written and made popular in the Victorian period. The collection begins with stories by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, and Hans Christian Anderson; whom are of course famous for their fairy tales. The collection then moves on to stories by well known Victorian authors, but perhaps not known for writing fairy tales. These include William Makepeace Thackeray, Oscar Wilde, Ford Madox Ford, Kenneth Grahame, E Nesbit and Rudyard Kipling. Some of my favourites included:

The Rose and the Ring by William Makepeace Thackeray – One fairy godmother causes magic, mayhem, upheaval and happiness, with her unusual christening blessings and gifts. I enjoyed how it poked a little bit of fun at fairy tale tropes.

The Golden Key by George Macdonald – a surreal tale of how two children travel across fairy land, meeting mother nature and the old man of the sea, as they search for what their golden key opens.

The Little Lame Prince and his Travelling Cloak by Mary de Morgan – a little lame prince is imprisoned by his uncle in a tall tower. The prince can only explore the world outside his tower by the help of a magical cloak, from his fairy godmother.

The Reluctant Dragon by E Nesbit – a circus man regales two children with a tale of a dragon who was neither fearsome or dangerous, but instead just wishes for a quiet life.

While these particularly stood out for me. I actually enjoyed all of the fairy tales in this collection. I thought there was a wonderful mixture of classic, humorous, sad, surreal and magical tales. The collection began with an in-depth introduction to the fairy tales and the authors of the Victorian period. While it had some fascinating ideas in it, it was too academic for what I was looking for. So I skipped it and got straight into reading the stories themselves. However I did read the shorter and simpler introductions, from earlier fairy tale collections, which were included at the end of the collection.

Victorian Fairy Tales is an enchanting collection of fairy tales from some well loved classic authors. I highly recommend to those who enjoy fairy tales and short story collections. Great read.

Thank you to Oxford University Press for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? What is your favourite fairy tale or short story collection?

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8 thoughts on “New Read: Victorian Fairy Tales

  1. Great review of an excellent book. I agree that the introduction might be better read after reading the stories. I found the notes also had some very interesting information, although a casual reader might just want to stick to the stories themselves.

  2. The title Victorian Fairy Tales made me think of Susanna Clarke’s lovely short story collection, The Ladies of Grace Adieu. It is a compilation of surreal new fairy stories and inventive retellings. Around the same time I had read a book of English fairy tales by Joseph Jacobs. It was interesting but lacked the creepy aura of the Grimm Brothers’ stories. They remain my favourites, especially the original darker, drearier tales – Disney hardly did them justice! I This book sounds really fun, of the few tales you have summarized, I really look forward to reading the ones by Nesbit and Thackeray. I’m glad I found your site. 🙂

    1. Hello Priya, thank you for stopping by and commenting. It is always lovely to hear from a new face. Thank you for the recommendation, I haven’t heard of The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke. I like the sound of “surreal new fairy stories and inventive retellings” 🙂

  3. That was a great fairytale book, indeed! I also skipped the introduction at first and read it after I had completed the stories – sometimes introductions can really spoil the story for you.

    1. Akylina so pleased to hear you enjoyed this collection too 🙂 It is also comforting to hear you skipped the introduction as well. Perhaps now I’ve finished and written about this collection I could give the introduction another go.

      1. Yes, I think you’ll get a lot more out of the introduction if you read it after the stories. I hope you find it a lot more interesting to read now 🙂

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