Queen Mab [from Poems by Thomas Hood, 1870] drawn by French artist, Gustave Doré (1832-1883). Engraved by W. Ridgway.
‘Queen Mab’ is a fairy mentioned in William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet (1597), where ‘she is the fairies’ midwife‘.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone
On the forefinger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomi
Over men’s noses as they lie asleep.
Her wagon spokes made of long spinners’ legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
Her traces of the smallest spider’s web,
Her collars of the moonshine’s watery beams,
Her whip of cricket’s bone, the lash of film,
Her wagoner a small gray-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid.
Queen Mab was a well-known fairy in Celtic (Irish) folklore for centuries before the great bard gave her a mention. But Shakespeare made her famous and thereafter other writers couldn’t resist tackling her.
Time to Get Up, a little rhyming story from the Rainbow Annual (1945).
Rainbow was a British comic. The 1930s was considered to be the “golden age” of British comics. After 6 years of war (1939-1945), I’m sure the 1945 annual was much read, loved and treasured.
A wonderful illustration by John R. Neill (1877-1943) for Treasure Island. Neill was a magazine and children’s book illustrator, mostly known for his ‘Land of Oz’ series (remember The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?).
Treasure Island is a classic adventure novel by Scottish author, Robert Louis Stevenson. It was first published in 1881, but set in the mid 1700s (a few decades before the setting of Winston Graham’s Poldark novels). It’s one of those books that used to be described as a ‘thumping good yarn’ – now publishers would probably call it ‘an engaging page-turner’.
Adventure on the high seas and a quest for pirate treasure, with colourful characters in an exotic setting. What more could you ask for?
An extraordinary illustration (1916) by Frank C. Papé (1878-1972) from The Russian Story Book [author, Richard Wilson]
A book that might be classified under the fairy tale/folklore heading. I won’t try and guess exactly what is going on – but those birds look hungry.
Some of the books that had a heavy contribution from Frank Papé.
- The Gateway to Spenser – Stories from the Faërie Queen (1910);
- The Pilgrim’s Progress (1910);
- The Golden Fairy Book (1911);
- The Ruby Fairy Book (1911);
- The Diamond Fairy Book (1911);
- Sigurd and Gudrun (1912);
- Siegfried and Kriemhild (1912);
- The Book of Psalms (1912);
- As It Is In Heaven (1912);
- The Story Without an End (1913);
- Robin Hood and Other Stories of Yorkshire (1915); and
- The Russian Story Book (1916).
After an Entomological Sale (1878) by Edward Armitage (English, 1817-1896). “What is entomology?” I hear you ask. The branch of zoology concerned with the study of insects/bugs. A lovely scene, wish I had been there.
Taken from Stories Of King Arthur [Retold by Blanche Winder, 1968]. Illustration by Harry G. Theaker.
One day as he worked in his garden, Joseph of Arimathea was visited by a beautiful Spirit, who told him he must take the Holy Grail to a distant country, called West-Over-The-Sea, (Britain) to a place called Glastonbury.