The Fairy Ring is a collection of fairy tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, translated into English by John Edward Taylor. Confusingly, his cousin, Edgar Taylor, was the first to translate the Grimms’ fairy tales into English, with German Popular Stories (1823). The Fairy Ring was a new selection, newly translated. John Edward Taylor told the publisher, John Murray, that he followed his cousin’s principles of translation. What this meant in practice was that some aspects of the stories were altered to fit in better with the new intended audience of children. For instance, in the original story of Rapunzel, she is imprisoned in a tower by a witch as punishment for her mother’s craving for lamb’s lettuce – called Rapunzel, in German. In The Fairy Ring, the heroine is renamed ‘Violet’ and her mother’s pregnancy craving is for flowers. While Rapunzel’s visits from the prince result in her pregnancy, this ‘detail’ is omitted in ‘Violet’.
The illustrations shown here are by Richard Doyle, one of the foremost artists of the Victorian period. He was particularly renowned for his illustrations of fairies. In Fairyland (1870), an album of Doyle’s fairy pictures, with verses by William Allingham, is considered to be one of the finest illustrated books of the 19th century.