LANG, Andrew

(1844 - 1912)
“A boy of five is always more at home in Fairyland than in his own country”

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Born in Selkirk, Scotland,  Andrew Lang was an avid reader and gifted student who went both to St Andrews University and Balliol College, Oxford.  He won a prestigious fellowship to Merton College, but soon met and fell in love with Leonora Blanche Alleyne.  As there were strict rules about dons getting married, Lang left the ivory towers, married Leonora and went to work in London as a poet, critic and journalist. 

Lang had grown up with a love of myths and fables, and towards the end of the 1880s he decided, with his wife’s help, to collect and publish some of his favourite tales.  The Blue Fairy Book, was the result, published in 1889 to great critical acclaim.  Encouraged by its favourable reception, Lang and Leonora continued their research producing just a year later the equally successful Red Fairy Book.   As the popularity of the series grew, the Lang’s widened their research to include fairy stories from all around the world, and between 1889 and 1910 Lang published twelve collections of fairy tales, each in a different coloured binding, culminating in the Lilac Fairy Book.  In total Lang, with help from Leonora, had collected, edited and translated 437 stories for his “rainbow” books.

 "In the old stories, despite the impossibility of the incidents, the interest is always real and human.  The princes and princesses fall in love and marry--nothing could be more human than that.  Their lives and loves are crossed by human sorrows...The hero and heroine are persecuted or separated by cruel stepmothers or enchanters; they have wanderings and sorrows to suffer; they have adventures to achieve and difficulties to overcome; they must display courage, loyalty and address, courtesy, gentleness and gratitude." Andrew Lang

Always a prolific author, Lang produced works on a wide variety of subjects, including history, the classics and anthropology, but it is as the editor of fairy stories that he is best remembered.

Blog: Andrew Lang - The Kind Magician

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Books by this author

The Pink Fairy Book

LANG, Andrew