The Golden Age:
Literary stories by
Master Storytellers

Literary Fairy Tales are sometimes folktales reduced to a written form, and sometimes original stories containing the elements of folktales - in particular, elements like magical items, or articulate animals. In the late 18th and 19th Centuries various collections of folktales were compiled by men like the brothers Grimm. The work of the Brothers Grimm, Joseph Jacobs, Andrew Lang, Burton and the other collectors of traditional folktales will be covered on Eldrbarry's The Great Collections - currently under construction. But first in France, then in Denmark, and other places, original stories began to be composed and published. Writing fairytales became such a fad in the late 19th century that many writers put their pens to creating them.

But what is the "Golden Age"? America's Golden Age of Illustration was from 1875 to 1925. That same period has also been called the Golden Age of Children's books. It was a time when master story tellers were writing (and sometimes also illustrating) books that became classic literary stories. This page celebrates some of those who created fairytales. As master tellers, they used powerful language - and their stories were meant to read aloud. Their stories were well crafted with multi-dimensional characters. The first four are among my favorites, because they were such excellent storytellers.


Howard Pyle (1853-1911) (See my Pyle website) American Illustrator who wrote and illustrated three books of Fairy Tales: two of which are out of print, and also did illustated version of the Robin Hood and King Arthur stories.

Carl Sandburg (1878 -1967) American poet, historian, newspaperman, songwriter and storyteller, who wrote some terrific "American" nonsense fairy tales for his children in the early twenties. Unfortunately, his estate is generally unwilling to grant permissions to tell or publish his stories, so none of them will be online till they become public domain. Still they are a joy to read aloud to a child in your lap.

Rudyard Kipling (1865 -1936 ) English Nobel Prize winning novelist and short story writer (who was Knighted for his literary work) is perhaps best know for his children's stories (based on colonial India), and their Disney adaptations. Though some tales are not quite "politically correct" yet they are master-pieces read aloud. His Just So (How and Why) Stories and Jungle Book and Second Jungle Book are online.

Eleanor Farjeon (1881 -1965) A shy English poet and award winning writer most noted for her story Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep, and for the words to the song Morning Has Broken; she has a marvelous and gentle style in her many stories written between 1920 and 1936. The Little Bookroom - a collection of some of her best was published in 1955. Sadly few of her books are currently in print.The Little Bookroom was reprinted in 2003. (See my Farjeon Pages for more about her and some of her stories)

The Beginnings of the Literary Fairy Tale

Charles Perrault (1628-1703) (France) Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots - some of the best known of fairy tales are the work of Perrault.

Mme. Catherine d'Aulnoy (1650-1705) who wrote The White Cat, The White Doe and The Blue Bird, and Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1711 - 1780) who is best know for her revised version of Beauty and the Beast are two French women who influenced Perrault. They created the first literary fairy tales

Hans Christian Anderson (1805-1875) (Denmark) Though his name, like those of the Brothers Grimm, is practically synonymous with "fairy tale" his many stories like The Ugly Duckling, The Nightingale, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Snow queen, The Match Girl, The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier were not collected folklore, but his own literary creations. He is most noted for characters who endure hardships before overcoming adversity.

Other writers of the Golden Age who wrote original fairy tales:

The Victorian Fairytale Book (Pantheon Fairy Tale & Folklore Library) by Michael Patrick Hearn Paperback Reprinted 2002 is a nice collection: Stories and poems by Dickens, Thackeray, J. M. Barrie, Kenneth Grahame, Oscar Wilde, Christina Rossetti, W. B. Yeats, and many others are paired with pictures by some of the most celebrated illustrators of the Victorian era, including Arthur Rackham, Arthur Hughes, Max field Parrish, Walter Crane, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) did two collections of stories between 1888 and 1891: The Happy Prince and The House of Pomegranates. My favorite is "The Selfish Giant". These two books are Online. George MacDonald ( 1824-1905 ) English Clergyman and father of eleven children, who wrote novels and fantasies, best known for the latter: Lilith, Phantastes, At the Back of the North Wind, and The Princess and The Goblin are said to have influenced C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkein. Some of his stories and books are online.

e. e. (Edward Estlin) cummings (1894 - 1962) The poet who favored lower case, also wrote some children's tales.

Herman Hesse (1877-1962) the Nobel Prize-winning German author of mystical novels, such as Steppenwolfe and Narcissus and Goldmund. On the high end of the New Age, his six fascinating tales remind one of Kafka and Dinesen, except for the brightening influence of Zen.

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) The creator of Little Women and other Victorian women's novels also wrote some fairy and fantasy which also partook of her sentimental stylings. Her Flower Fables are online.

Karel Capek (1890-1938) Little known in America, Capek was a Czech story writer, novelist, playwright, columnist, and children's author (who invented the word "robot" by the way).

Frank Stockton (1834-1902), American author, who wrote novels and short stories. An editor of St. Nicholas Magazine along with Mary Mapes Dodge, his vision problems in 1878 turned him to dictating his fabulous stories to his wife for publication. Stockton's gifts as an author of imaginative children's tales, such as The Floating Prince and Other Fairy Tales (1881) and The Bee Man of Orn and Other Fanciful Tales (1887), have gained renewed respect in recent years. His stories strongly influenced L. Frank Baum, the creator of the marvelous land of OZ.

Collections and Commentary

Here was a good site for more Fairy Tales and Fables from original works on the internet.

More Books Pages about Fairy Tales and their Interpretation are found on Eldrbarry's The Collectors and Once Upon a Couch


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