Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 06 Dec 2015

In Fairy Land : A Series of Pictures From The Elf World : By Richard Doyle (poem by William Allingham)

I thought I should share something hot from the shops. I've just been at a book fair where I picked up this facsimile edition of In Fairy Land from the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books published by The Bodley Head.

Doyle's illustrations for Allingham's poem were originally published by Longman's in 1870 and this work is generally seen as his masterpiece. In many ways it was atypical of Doyle's output given that he built his reputation as a political caricturist and was the artist responsible for drawing the masthead for the magazine Punch.


There are 16 full page illustrations that have a pretty unmistakable form and colouring - with child-like fairy folk riding the backs of snails and peeping out from between the wings of butterflies. Some people will find the illustrations a bit hard to stomach because they are sickly sweet but there is no doubt that as a representation of high Victorian children's book illustration they are unparalleled.



I will need to do a bit more research on why and when the facsimile was produced but I think that the £15 I paid for it was pretty good and I'm not sure how often you're likely to come across another.


Terry Potter

December 2015