Friday, March 8, 2013

'Fairy Scenes' of the Regency

People of the Regency, it appears, were as fascinated by fairies as were their late Victorian counterparts. It came as something of a surprise to me. I decided to look into their interest in all things fairy when I came across the following poem in the September 1816 issue of The Repository of Arts.
This poem, of indifferent quality, continues for another one and a half columns. It was written by one J. Ingle with a connection to--unexpectedly--the Northamptonshire Regiment of Militia! I have not been able to track down its parent volume "The Aerial Isles", but I shall keep trying.

I have blogged about "A Regency Lady's Faery Bower" in another post. I did not consider at that time whether the book was created by one woman's fascination with faery, or by an interest at large in society. 
from Amelia Jane Murray's - A Regency Lady's Faery Bower

It appears there was a great interest in fairies a-foot. Ten years before 'Fairy Scenes' appeared in The Repository of Arts, in 1806, John Black published The Falls of Clyde:
Even earlier, in 1804, Temple of the Fairies appeared. It is a compilation of stories, all of which include fairies as the major protagonists.

It is embellished with dramatic engravings; neither the authors nor the artists are credited in the work.
from Invincable Fortitude - Temple of the Fairies
In 1809, Elegant Extracts--a volume of "useful and entertaining pieces of poetry selected for the improvement of young persons"--included another work of indifferent poetry that continues on perhaps a little too long,

and three or four other items of fairy-based work.

Another work of 1809 is among the most charming of the fairy stories, although somewhat lacking in literary merit.
This little book appears to have been privately published and sold; it does not indicate if Miss Lefanu also did the illustrations for the story. Here are the opening lines:
and here, a selection of the charming engravings:



Fairy tales and tales of fairies--the two are easily confused. The following publication of 1817 is more the former than the latter, but the title page is delightful.
Our own era is beguiled by fairies--yet another indication that the folk of the Regency were not so very different from us?

'Til next time,

Lesley-Anne

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