Monday, November 3, 2014

BATB: Animal Online Resource

A. L. Bowley
If you want to research "Beauty and the Beast", I would wholeheartedly recommend heading over to Surlalune first, where you will find the full text of the Andrew Lang version annotated, as well as pages for its history, illustrations, modern interpretations, similar tales across cultures, and a bibliography (as you will also find for 50 of the most common fairy tales).

But I recently found this page created by Russel A. Peck. It has recommended reading, like Surlalune, but it has a helpful feature in that it has categories based on which animal the Beast is, so if you wanted to find a list of tales in which the animal bridegroom is a pig, or serpent, for example, you  could look at those. The Beast has even been a hedgehog, snail, or snow (Peck includes Snow Maiden tales in the BATB category).

Anonymous illustration for Charles Lamb's poem

The page also includes links to lists of Males transformed, Females transformed, and a few modern variants in which humans are transformed into beasts at the end. Could be a helpful resource for your BATB research!

Most texts don't include specific descriptions of the Beast. Villeneuve describes him as having clanking scales and the trunk of an elephant, most illustrators choose to interpret him in their own way, and we have a wide variety of representations, such as the classic pictures below. (All of the illustrations, by the way, are from Surlalune's BATB illustration index-in fact I get most of my blog images from Surlalune)

In fact, the topic of how the Beast has been thought of and illustrated and how he has evolved over time is an interesting topic in itself. I discussed this a little back in 2010 and here and there over the blog's history, maybe it's time to update my thoughts in a future post...
Anne Anderson
Eleanor Vere Boyle
Walter Crane
Edmund Dulac
H.J. Ford
Margaret Evans Price
W. Heath Robinson
Margaret Tarrant
Jessie Wilcox Smith
Paul Woodroffe


  1. I too am fascinated by the many interpretations by various artists and generations as to what constitutes a "Beast." As your examples show, it might be anything from a cute chimp, to a walrus, to an elegantly dressed fellow with the head of a rampaging boar!

    I'm especially partial to the Paul Woodroffe illustration, which I snagged off the Internet years ago and plastered onto the box where I keep my own B&B ms. It's so suggestive, yet still leaves room for the viewer's imagination.

    1. You're right, Woodroffe's angle keeps some of the mystery. His is also the most human-looking of this group, it kind of reminds me of vampires, possibly due to the excess of vampire stories in the media now!