Fairy Tales, Wolf Children and Victorian Fairy Art

Those attending the Company of Wolves conference in September may be familiar with the work of Michael Newton, Senior Lecturer, Department of English, University of Leiden. He is the author of Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children (Faber, 2003)


Newton has also just published a book of Victorian Fairy Tales


Authors range from those best-known for their work as writers of fairy tales, and others central to the nineteenth-century literary canon such as Thackeray and Ford Madox Ford. The book includes a selection of original illustrations by some of the greatest figures of Victorian fairy art such as Richard Doyle, Arthur Hughes, and Walter Crane. Newton’s introduction explores the impulses behind the stories and their connection to national identity and debates over scepticism and belief, their centrality to the literary output of the period and interest in the irrational and dreaming mind. The work also contains historically informed notes and biographies of the authors, a chronology of Victorian fairy tales, and an appendix in which some of the included authors discuss the nature of fairy tale and its importance, plus a full fairy tale bibliography.

Both Newton’s books open up interesting debates and are useful background reading for the conference. Animal parented children have fascinated down the centuries and there will be a panel on their representation at Company of Wolves, during which I will also be in conversation with the writer Marcus Sedgwick. Marcus has been a generous contributor to the Open Graves, Open Minds project since its beginnings in 2010. He has depicted wolf children, such as Mouse, a young girl who was snatched from the wolves, in his deeply compelling novel Dark Horse

About Sam George

Associate Professor of Research, School of Humanities, University of Hertfordshire Co-convenor OGOM Project
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