In this landmark study of the history and meaning of fairy tales, the celebrated cultural critic Marina Warner looks at storytelling in art and legend – from the prophesying enchantress who lures men to a false paradise, to jolly Mother Goose with her masqueraders in the real world. Why are storytellers so often women, and how does that affect the status of fairy tales. Are they a source of wisdom or a misleading temptation to indulge romancing.
Warner interprets the history of old wives’ tales from sibyls and the Queen of Sheba to Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, and Angela Carter. And with fresh new insights she shows us the real-life themes in the famous stories, which, she suggests, are skillful vehicles by which adults have liked to convey advice, warning, and hope – to each other as well as to children.
Marina Warner‘s study of the Arabian Nights, Stranger Magic (2011) won the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism and the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in 2013; in 2015 she was awarded the Holberg Prize in the Arts and Humanities and was made DBE. She is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, a Fellow of the British Academy and President of the Royal Society of Literature.