Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Coloured Fairy Books

I have in my possession a well-worn, truncated version of a book called The Green Fairy Book by Andrew Lang. It is a copy from my childhood library. The cover in falling off. The pages are more than yellow - almost orange. Dog-eared is a kind assessment of its corners, so many times have I turned those pages.

Inside, Lang presented fairy tales from all over the world. My favorite, however, was "Little One Eye, Little Two Eyes, Little Three Eyes", a version of Cinderella. This modest collection of fairy tales was my first literary introduction to Andrew Lang. I adored the stories and read them over and over again.

When I was in my twenties, working at a book store, I found The Brown Fairy Book by Lang. It was in the 50% off pile.

After taking my purchase home, I discovered that both the Green Fairy and the Brown Fairy were part of a larger series. Andrew Lang had created a series called The Coloured Fairy Books (Lang was English - hence the 'u'), twelve colors in all. Here I was with a measly two!

The antiques collector in me would not let this stand.

Six years later I am the proud owner of a complete set of The Coloured Fairy Books. I read them often, use them for reference and even discover some inspiration. They sit on my desk as a constant reminder of those early days when my reading appetite was never satisfied. They challenge me to write - write for that young girl who loved (loves) fanciful tales where Good triumphs over Evil and True Love still exists.

Lastly, I want to leave you with something Lang wrote in the preface of his Green Fairy Book. I smile every time I read this.

"To the Friendly Reader: This is the third, and probably the last, of the Fairy Books of many colours." 

Perhaps not, Mr. Lang. Perhaps not.

For its own sake, I hope the world will never lose interest in fairy tales.

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