Fairies were frequently supposed to reside in a kingdom of their own—which might be underground, e.g., gnomes in the sea, e.g., mermaids in an enchanted part of the forest or in some far land. Sometimes they were ruled by a king or queen, as were the trolls in Ibsen's Peer Gynt and the fairies in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Although fairies were usually represented as mischievous, capricious, and even demonic, they could also be loving and bountiful, as the fairy godmother in Cinderella . Sometimes fairies entered into love affairs with mortals, but usually such liaisons involved some restriction or compact and frequently ended in calamity, as did those of Melusine and Undine. Various peoples have emphasized particular kinds of fairies in their folklore, such as the Arabic jinni , Scandinavian troll , Germanic elf , and English pixie . Among the great adapters of fairy lore into popular fairy tales were Charles Perrault , the brothers Grimm , and Hans Christian Andersen . Other notable contributors were Andrew Lang and James Stephens .
See K. M. Briggs, The Fairies in English Tradition and Literature (1967) J. D. Zipes, Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales (1979), Fairy Tale as Myth/Myth as Fairy Tale (1994), and When Dreams Came True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition (1999) M. M. Tatar, Off with Their Heads!: Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood (1992) M. Warner, From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers (1995).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Folklore and Mythology
Browse By Subject
- Earth and the Environment +-
- History +-
- Literature and the Arts +-
- Medicine +-
- People +-
- Philosophy and Religion +-
- Places +-
- Australia and Oceania
- Britain, Ireland, France, and the Low Countries
- Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic Nations
- Germany, Scandinavia, and Central Europe
- Latin America and the Caribbean
- Oceans, Continents, and Polar Regions
- Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and the Balkans
- United States, Canada, and Greenland
- Plants and Animals +-
- Science and Technology +-
- Social Sciences and the Law +-
- Sports and Everyday Life +-