Andrew Lang (31 March 1844 – 20 July 1912)

Fairy Books
Dear Dr Adamson

“Once upon a time what happened did happen – and if it had not happened, you would never have heard this story.”So begins ‘The Boys with the Golden Stars’ from Andrew Lang’s Violet Fairy book.Andrew Lang, who died 100 years ago today, spent his life gathering together some of the best loved fairy tales. These stories have been delighting us since childhood, but, were it not for him, we might never have heard of them.spriteConjuring up a magical universe of wicked stepmothers, brutal ogres and dashing heroes facing impossible odds, his Rainbow Fairy Books enchanted Victorian Britain, introducing children to cultures from across the world.We are proud to publish the first eight in the Rainbow Fairy Book collection, each with sumptuous bindings and exquisite illustrations. Whether the adventure ‘The Snow Queen’ from The Pink Fairy Book or the romance of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ from the Blue, Lang’s books are perfect gifts for any child who loves a good story. Even if the ‘child’ is grown up!

Kind regards

Julia, The Folio Society


The Folio Society

Andrew Lang (31 March 1844 – 20 July 1912) was a Scots poet, novelist, literary critic, and contributor to the field of anthropology. He is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales. The Andrew Lang lectures at the University of St Andrews are named after him.

Lang was born in Selkirk and was educated at Selkirk grammar school,Loretto, and at the Edinburgh Academy, St Andrews University andat Balliol College,Oxford, where he took a first class in the final classical schools in 1868, becoming a fellow and subsequently honorary fellow of Merton College. As a journalist,poet,critic and historian, he soon made a reputation as one of the most able and versatile writers of the day.

He died of myocardial infarction at the Tor-na-Coille Hotel in Banchory, Banchory, survived by his wife. He was buried in the cathedral precincts at St Andrews.

Banchory (Scottish Gaelic: Beannchar, ‘blessed place’) is a burgh or town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, lying approximately 18 miles west of Aberdeen, near where the Feugh River meets the River Dee.The name is thought to be derived from an early Christian settlement founded by the Pictish (Cruthin) monk St Ternan. He established a college on the banks of the River Dee to teach Christianity and agriculture to the local Picts The village and parish was called Banchory Ternan until the 1970s. The original Gaelic form is almost identical to that of the great monastery of Bangor, in North Down.


Rumpelstiltskin,” from Lang’s Fairy Tales.


Lang is now chiefly known for his publications on folklore,mythology and religion. The interest in folklore was from early life; he read John McLennan before coming to Oxford, and then was influenced by E. B. Tylor,

The earliest of his publications is Custom and Myth (1884). In Myth, Ritual and Religion (1887) he explained the “irrational” elements of mythology as survivals from more primitive forms. Lang’s Making of Religion was heavily influenced by the 18th century idea of the “noble savage”: in it, he maintained the existence of high spiritual ideas among so-called “savage” races, drawing parallels with the contemporary interest in occult phenomena in England. His Blue Fairy Book (1889) was a beautifully produced and illustrated edition of fairy tales that has become a classic. This was followed by many other collections of fairy tales, collectively known as Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books. Lang examined the origins of totemism in Social Origins (1903).

Lang was one of the founders of “psychical research” and his other writings on anthropology include The Book of Dreams and Ghosts (1897), Magic and Religion (1901) and The Secret of the Totem (1905). He served as President of the Society for Psychical Research in 1911.


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