George Cruikshank’s Fairy Library consists of four stories; ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ pictured here, along with ‘Hop o’ my Thumb and the Seven League Boots’ and ‘Puss in Boots’. Cruikshank was already a distinguished caricaturist and illustrator of books for children and adults when he produced this work.
His illustrations for the first English translation of Grimm’s Fairy Tales were praised widely, but his own rewriting of fairytales was criticised, most prominently by Charles Dickens. This was not due to the quality of the illustrations, but because, in line with his temperance beliefs, Cruikshank rewrote aspects of the fairytales to warn the reader against the evils of alcohol. Thus, for instance, the preparations for Cinderella’s marriage include the court throwing all alcohol in the palace on a bonfire; and in ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, the giant is an alcoholic. Dickens, a friend of Cruikshank, was outraged at what he considered to be a betrayal of the essence of fairytales and, in protest he published an essay in his weekly magazine Household Words entitled ‘Frauds on the Fairies’ in protest (1853).
- Article by:
- John Mullan
- The novel 1832–1880
Professor John Mullan explores how George Eliot draws on fairytale elements in her self-described ‘realistic treatment’ of a pre-industrial weaver and her work.
- Article by:
- M O Grenby
- Childhood and children's literature
Professor M O Grenby explores the relationship between fantasy and morality in 18th- and 19th-century children’s literature.
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