Andrew Lang

© 2013, Nabila Islam
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Figure 1: Cover displays intricate illustration by H. J. Ford, as well as colour corresponding bindings.

Andrew Lang (1844-1912) was the eldest of John Lang and Jane Plenderleath Sellar’s eight children. Lang’s educational journey includes Edinburgh Academy, University of St. Andrews and Balliol College, as well as a fellowship at Morton College from 1865 to 1874. A Victorian intellectual and classicist, Lang was interested in numerous subjects, such as history, anthropology and psychical research, especially after he moved away from religion, towards mythology and legends.

As a child, Lang read the works of the Grimm brothers and William Shakespeare. As an adult, he wrote articles, literary criticisms, and essays on the varying subjects that interested him. His list of work is extensive, going far beyond fairy tales. Despite his diverse knowledge on a verity of subjects, Lang preferred the romance of folk and fairy tales. However, he is most renown for his collection of fairy tales. Despite having published some original fairy tales, his distinction comes from being a collector and editor of folk and fairy tales from around the world.

Lang’s twelve coloured fairy books became a staple for children, introducing new and old tales, from a variety of sources. With the aid of his wife, who would gather the material, Lang would edit and arrange the tales and H. J. Ford would then illustrate for his books. The physicality of the books increased popularity, each the corresponding colour, with the sumptuous covers typical of the early 1900s. The Red Romance Book, though not part of the coloured fairy book series, holds the same physical qualities (see Figure 1).