Friday, January 29, 2016

What Fairy Tales REALLY Say About Curiosity

Rosebud Nielsen Image
This post is kind of an extension of some of the discussion that went on in the comments from my post on an alternate beginning for Rapunzel a couple weeks ago. It's largely been accepted in fairy tale scholarship that traditional fairy tales tend to condemn female curiosity, some of them outright (like Perrault's moral for "Bluebeard") and some of them more subtly. Culturally, it was typical for curiosity in women to be seen as a horrible thing for a while there, so it's sad but not too surprising that that idea would have been applied to fairy tales.

Yet, when you ignore the moral tacked on at the end or inserted by an editor trying to make their tales more marketable for children's instruction, what do the tales themselves actually say about curiosity?

Sleeping Beauty-the Princess is exploring the castle one day and finds a spindle, and touches it, having never seen one before. She falls into deathlike sleep, as was predicted by the fairy (and really caused by her father's attempts to prevent the spell from happening). But after her sleep is over, she ends up with a royal husband and is none the worse for her long nap (also an extra episode with an evil mother in law in some versions, but that also gets resolved and the villain punished)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Nielsen Image
Snow White-enters a strange house in the woods when she is running from her murderous mother/stepmother (this one is more desperation than curiosity, but she could have just sat outside and waited for the dwarves to come home, like a proper little girl should have). Yet she is never condemned-she strikes a deal with the dwarfs, who end up later helping the Prince find her (in a totally creepy way but that's a different topic)

Twelve Dancing Princesses-We are never told (in most versions) how the sisters discovered that there was an entrance to an underground kingdom in their bedroom, but it stands to reason they somehow discovered it, and made the choice to venture down. This tale is one of the most ambiguous, sometimes the Princesses are assumed to be under a spell, but in the Grimms their actions are never really explained-but they are also not specifically condemned (and interestingly, the princes in the underground kingdom are punished, but not the Princesses who traveled there to dance-the soldier, who was curious and adventurous enough to discover the truth, is the rewarded hero)

-And, in the "Twelve Dancing Princesses" category, we have to remember Kate Crackernuts, a version in which it's a female who does the exporing into the hidden Kingdom, saving her sister and a prince in the process! Thanks Sue Bursztynski :)

Bluebeard's Wife-opens the door to the forbidden chamber. Because of this she is threatened with death by her husband, but he is killed, and his killing seen as just. His widow ends up with his estate, and her freedom.
Bluebeard by Kay Nielsen

Jack and the Beanstalk-climbs up the beanstalk and discovers the world of giants. This gets him into a dangerous situation from which he ultimately escapes and triumphs, ending up with the money he lacked at the beginning

East of the Sun, West of the Moon/Cupid and Psyche-the heroine disobeys an order not to look upon her husband, seeing how hot he secretly is. She has to go on a long, hard journey to win him back, but they do ultimately end up together and happy

So, what do the tales themselves actually say about curiosity? (This is only a partial list of some big ones-feel free to add more in the comments! And there are always exeptions to rules but I'm going to go ahead and state:)
East of the Sun Image 5 by Nielsen
First of all, curiosity does often bring challenges and obstacles. (Even to males, like Jack!) And that, honestly, can be true. There's the old saying, "ignorance is bliss"-it's not always easy discovering new knowledge that might challenge your worldview, or the truth about a person you thought you could trust. Curiosity leads to discovering something you didn't know before, and that often sends you on a different life path than you were previously on. It's the same in detective stories-digging through clues and getting closer to the truth can put you in dangerous situations with the criminals, but is necessary for obtaining justice.

But if fairy tales truly wanted to condemn the curious, the characters who went where they weren't supposed to and opened locked doors would ultimately end up dying and/or unhappy-many fairy tales really do end tragically! The Grimms weren't afraid to punish disobedient children in their stories, or to make their villains suffer horribly. Yet the endings reveal that those who pursue knowledge really are the heroes and heroines, not the villains. Sometimes that forbidden discovery really enables the happy ending to happen. We, the readers, always want to know what lies on the other side of the door just as much as the characters-by listening we are complicit in the discovering alongside the protagonists! It would be too ironic if stories themselves (which impart ideas and knowledge) were to truly condemn discovery of other ideas and knowledge!

Of course, there are boundaries to curiosity. The Victorian idea of not indulging curiosity isn't entirely bad, because you should also respect other people's privacy, etc. The level to which the characters actually crossed that boundary could be debated for each tale and variant (such as Goldilocks). But for most of these stories, the plots of fairy tales ultimately speak louder than the official morals, and the characters who display curiosity are clearly the sympathetic protagonists.

Illustrations-Kay Nielsen

Monday, January 25, 2016

LaliBlue's Fairy Tale Necklaces

Some beautiful fairy tale necklaces can be found at Etsy's LaliBlue shop (or the original Spanish site)! There are the usual suspects (Little Red, Cinderella) alongside some other fairy tale characters you don't usually see in jewelry form, such as Donkeyskin and the Steadfast Tin Soldier.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Grimms' The Twelve Brothers: First edition verses Seventh

Still loving my new copy of the First Edition of the brothers Grimm Tales.  Sometimes I'll get disappointed when there isn't a big difference between stories in the first edition verses later ones, but I guess it's good to know that Wilhelm (who did most of the editing) didn't completely change every story.

Some changes are more well known to fairy tale fans-the fact that Rapunzel's witch/fairy found out about the prince because Rapunzel was pregnant and showing, or the fact that Snow White's stepmother was originally her mother.

So I'm on the lookout for differences in tales that aren't as well known. I found some very interesting edits in The Twelve Brothers, a version of "The Wild Swans." The link is to the latest edition, if you want to read the whole thing.

The story begins with a King and Queen who had twelve sons, and expecting their thirteenth child.
First edition: The King doesn't want the last child to be a daughter, and threatens to kill his sons if the Queen should give birth to a girl.
Final edition: The King wants to give his only daughter the entire inheritance, so he makes the same threat to his sons.

This is a pretty interesting change. The original King is so obviously sexist and wrong, and yet the change is almost worse in a way because it makes it seem like favoring a daughter is linked with evil. That was my first impression, since we're so wired to look at fairy tales through a gender lens, but actually upon further reflection I think the change was made just to avoid a major plot hole. If the King really hates girls, and has no problem killing his own children, why would he allow his daughter to live and run around the castle? It makes much more sense to threaten to kill your sons if you prefer daughters.

Well, the Queen is too loving a mother to allow her sons to be murdered. She sends them into the forest to hide until her baby is born. If the baby is a son, she will have a white flag raised from the castle; if it is a girl, it will be a red flag and they should flee.
First edition: It's briefly mentioned that the youngest son is the Queen's favorite
Final edition: The youngest son is named Benjamin and given a larger role. There is an extra scene in which he begs her to tell him why she is so sad, and she hesitates to tell him at first, but then shows him the room with twelve coffins that have been prepared for them.

The brothers hide and watch for the flag. When the baby is born (the last edition mentions that this was during Benjamin's watch), there is a red flag, and their lives are all in danger. The young men are angry that they should have lost their lives for a girl, and swear that if they ever see a girl they will kill her. The brothers make a home for themselves in the woods and hunt.
First edition: "Whenever they encountered a maiden, she was treated without mercy and lost her life"
Final edition: The brothers conveniently seem to avoid actually encountering any females, so they are not murderers any more.

Meanwhile, their little sister has grown up, and one day finds twelve shirts that belonged to her brothers. She is told the story, and decides to go out in search of them. She encounters one of her brothers at home.
First edition: That brother threatens to kill her, but she pleaded that she would keep house for them, and they allowed her to live.
Final edition: The brother she meets is Benjamin, who didn't want to kill her at all. Before showing her to his brothers, he made them promise not to kill the first maiden they saw. The brothers, rather than simply realizing they could use someone to do housework, were impressed by her beauty, delicacy, and sweetness, and loved her.
Also, rather than doing the housework solo, she helps Benjamin do the cooking and cleaning. I found this very interesting, and probably countercultural? This seems to be a very rare instance of a male doing any sort of housework in the Grimms' tales.

The family lived and worked together happily, until one day, the Princess found twelve beautiful lilies and picked them, only to be told by an old woman that the flowers were her brothers, and now they would be turned into ravens forever. The only way she could save them would be to take a vow of silence.
First edition: The Princess must be silent for twelve years, at the risk of her brothers dying if she broke her vow
Final edition: The silence was shortened to seven years

Gruelle Image2The Princess was discovered by a King, who asked her to be his wife. She did not speak, but nodded. Only her husband's mother was wicked and put into her son's mind that his new bride was a wicked beggar and must be put to death. The King would not believe his mother at first, but finally was persuaded, and agreed to have her burnt. Just as the flames were getting near, the last minute of the curse was up. The twelve ravens came flying down and turned into men, and their sister was able to defend herself and tell her story. The King rejoiced.
First edition: "Now they had to decide what they should do with the evil mother-in-law. Well, they stuck her into a barrel full of boiling oil and poisonous snakes, and she died a ghastly death."
Final edition*: Rather than the main characters imposing their own justice, the same fate was determined by a court of law

*Thank you to Julia Mavroidi for pointing this out to me. My translation (this Barnes and Noble copy) ends this way: "But the wicked mother-in-law was very unhappy, and died miserably." Apparently their editor/translator (uncredited, that I can find) still found the ending too violent

Cover and first picture-Andrea Dezso, Walter Crane, John B. Gruelle

For more on "The Twelve Brothers," here's an interesting article on Fairy Tale Origins

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Article, BBC News: Fairy Tale Origins Thousands of Years Old

An illustration of Beauty and the Beast
My friend sent me a link to this article from BBC News, Fairy Tale Origins Thousands of Years Old, Researchers Say. An Excerpt:

"Dr Tehrani, who worked with folklorist Sara Graca Da Silva, from the New University of Lisbon, said: "We find it pretty remarkable these stories have survived without being written.
"They have been told since before even English, French and Italian existed. They were probably told in an extinct Indo-European language."
In the 19th Century, authors the Brothers Grimm believed many of the fairy tales they popularised, including Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel and Snow White, were rooted in a shared cultural history dating back to the birth of the Indo-European language family.
Later thinkers challenged that view, saying some stories were much younger and had been passed into oral tradition, having first been written down by writers from the 16th and 17th Centuries.
Dr Jamie Tehrani said: "We can come firmly down on the side of Wilhelm Grimm.
"Some of these stories go back much further than the earliest literary record and indeed further back than Classical mythology - some versions of these stories appear in Latin and Greek texts - but our findings suggest they are much older than that."
This article doesn't provide too many details beyond this (they reference a different article from Science News which basically says the same). They've used language analysis to do their studies, as opposed to the usual method of finding a tale referenced in writing. In a way it's no surprise to us that fairy tales existed, in some form, thousands of years ago. For example, we already know that "Beauty and the Beast" can be linked to "Cupid and Psyche" from the second century, and that that was probably based on oral tales. But according to the article, BATB is probably 3,000-4,000 years old. Yet the stories change so much over time, even "Cupid and Psyche" is significantly different than BATB. I wish the articles had more examples showing how they can be confident that these stories are "far older than the first literary evidence for them." Still, very interesting, and contradicts the literary source theory that Ruth Bottigheimer has put forth.
Illustrations by Walter Crane

UPDATE: Surlalune has posted on the CNN article which provides the link for the full study. I'm definitely not an expert in phylogenetic analysis and I probably wouldn't understand any of it anyway but I'll pretend it's because I haven't had enough coffee yet. If anyone wants to look it over and attempt to explain pertinent findings in layman's terms, please do! (I also don't feel too badly because Don Melvin, in the CNN article, humorously points out how wordy the study is)

UPDATE:  Zalka Csenge Virag also discussed the article on Multicolored Diary (and has far more intelligent, in depth things to say about the study than I!)

*Also, I've added a tag for fairy tale origins. It contains posts about the debate over ancient oral sources for fairy tales verses relatively recent literary sources, but also those theories about historical precedents for fairy tales, if you're interested!

Monday, January 18, 2016

From the Archives: Heidi Anne Heiner on the History of Goldilocks

This information was taken from an article Heidi Anne Heiner (of Surlalune) wrote for Faerie Magazine

The earliest known manuscript of "Goldilocks" was a little illustrated book done in 1831 by Eleanor Mure made for her nephew's birthday. The story was referenced in 1813 as well so we know it's been around since before then.

The older tales we know of centered around the bears, and the intruder was actually an old woman. The bears are the protagonists and the intruder the villain. Robert Southey's 1837 version of the story (which for years was thought to be an original story, before the Mure version was discovered) includes all male bears, whose voices were represented by different fonts. (This story makes a great music lesson plan for young children, as you can teach high and low sounds with the bear's voices).

Mure's tale has the bears attempting in vain to murder the old woman-their inability to do so probably because she was a witch.

The switch from evil old woman to adorable little gir began with Joseph Cundall in 1850, who, when explaining why he made the change, wrote that the tale was better known as "Silver-hair" (although the illustrations to his tale show a little brunette), and that there were already plenty of stories with old women.

The name "Goldilocks" was first used in 1904 and made popular when the version by Flora Annie Steel and illustrated by Arthur Rackham appeared with the now-famous name in 1918. Gradually the three bears became a family and narrators became more sympathetic with the little girl. Sometimes she was punished, but the name of the tale is revealing, because it used to be called "The Three Bears" and is now known simply by "Goldilocks." To some, the little bear is the real protagonist. The change of sympathy from bears to little girl reminds me of the reversible verses from Marilyn Singer's excellent book "Mirror, Mirror" (Buy it nowNo, seriously):

the headline read.
Next day
Goldilocks claimed,
"They shouldn't have left
the door
She ate the porridge.
a chair.
"Big deal?
They weren't there."

They weren't there.
big deal?
A chair
ate the porridge.
the door.
"They shouldn't have left,"
Goldilocks claimed.
Next day
the headline read:

Heiner mentions a related tale from 1894 in which the trespasser is a fox or vixen-the term "vixen" could help explain the transition from fox to a woman.

Illustrations-Anne Anderson, Arthur Rackham, Jose Masse

Friday, January 15, 2016

Rapunzel Alternate Beginning

Anne Anderson's Rapunzel

One great thing about the annotated tales over at Surlalune are that Heidi Anne Heiner has included the Grimms' notes with some of them. Not even my complete first edition of Grimm tales has that!

I was reading about Rapunzel and came across this interesting fact: the Grimms had found a version that seems like it blended Bluebeard and Rapunzel. The witch lives with a young girl, and entrusted all of her keys to her, but forbid her to go in a certain room. The young girl, of course, disobeys, and finds the witch sitting in it with "two great horns." Because of that, the girl is placed in a tower.

This tale still seems more reasonable than Bluebeard. The witch, at least, hasn't killed anybody in the process, and really has nothing to hide. And while it's still not entirely fair, at least a child should be expected to obey adults more so than a wife should be expected to have entire rooms in her house off limits.

Still, in both cases, female curiosity is punished. While it's upsetting for feminists, the punishments in both cases (locked in a tower/death) are just so extreme, maybe tales like these were sometimes meant to express frustration with societal expectations of women's complete obedience.

Also, on the subject of niece drew this for me for Christmas. My favorite detail is the "no tower" thought bubble coming from Rapunzel. Although many fairy tale Princesses are trapped in towers, servitude, or death-like sleep, their goal is universally escape!

Illustration-Anne Anderson

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Fairy Serpent: A Chinese Beauty and the Beast Tale

Once there was a man who had three daughters, who were skilled in embroidery. Every day on his way home from work he would gather flowers for them to use as patterns. One day he found no flowers along the road and went into the woods, and unintentionally found his way into the land of a fairy serpent. The serpent coiled around him and hissed at him for entering his garden.

The man pleaded that he was only trying to get gifts for his daughters. The snake refused to let the man go unless he promised to give one of his daughters to him. The man pleaded to find any other way, but the snake would accept nothing else. At last, worried about his daughters deprived of his protection, made his promise and returned home.

He was so anxious he could not eat, and his daughters tried to discover the source of his sorrow. The eldest urged him to take food, and he said he would do so, if she went to marry a snake for his sake. She refused, and her father was still deeply troubled. The same thing happened with the second daughter, but the youngest declared she would wed the serpent if her father took care of himself. The father returned to health, and the family was happy again.

But later, the girls were sitting and embroidering, when a wasp flew into the room and demanded that his master's bride come with him. The girls poked the wasp with their needles until he flew away.

The next day, two wasps came, and three the day after that, and after a while, the girls could not withstand the wasps or their stings, and the youngest decided to relieve her family of the wasps and go with them. She found a beautiful palace filled with luxuries and treasures, and a snake with beautiful eyes and a musical voice, but warty skin, and she shuddered at the idea of seeing him about.

But the young bride told the snake that she appreciated the excellence of his provisions, and she would do her best with her domestic tasks. The snake doted on her and was so kind, she began to appreciate his presence.

One day she was in the forest fetching water, and when she returned she found the snake dying of thirst. She grabbed him and plunged him into the water, from which he rose transformed, as a handsome man. He had been enchanted, but by her "dutiful quest and gracious pity she set him free. Thereafter she often with her admirable husband visited her old home and carried gifts to those who were less happy than she."

Tale found in Surlalune's Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World and is available to read in full on Surlalune; collected between 1873 and 1889, it was published in Adele M. Fielde's Chinese Fairy Stories. Illustrations by Kam Mak for The Dragon Prince

I like this unusual version of "Beauty and the Beast". First of all, the narration goes to greater lengths than most to show that the father really cares for his daughters and tries to get out of giving any of them away. He has a sweet relationship with all of them, and in this one Beauty is not set apart by a different request-the flowers are for all of them.

And although her sacrifice is for her father, the episode with the wasps shows that she is doing it for the sake of the rest of her family as well (besides being humorous, and showing a rare instance of Beauty stalling for time after promising to wed a Beast.)

Also, the mention of charity at the end is pretty rare in fairy tales. Most fairy tales represent inward journeys, and the hero is content to simply enjoy his or her new wealth and royal spouse, but I like this positive message.

Also, in honor of David Bowie's recent passing, I thought I'd repost his "Beauty and the Beast," although it really has nothing to do with the fairy tale other than sharing the same name:

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights

Charles Robinson's Snowdrop

This Russian poem, by Alexander Pushkin, is an interesting version of "Snow White." Written in 1833, Pushkin had a French translation of the brothers Grimm, so it appears that The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights was his revision of the tale. The full text can be read here, but below is an excerpt.

This version is much more romantic. Rather than the Prince (disturbingly) lusting after a corpse, this Prince was already engaged to the Princess, and spent the time of her disappearance searching for her. The Princess lives with seven knights, who despite being in love with her treat her with utmost respect, and she remains loyal to her betrothed.

Charles Robinson's Snowdrop
Also, the Princess in this poem comes across as less stupid, because there is no warning against talking to anyone that she breaks; and instead of accepting gifts from the same woman who already tried to poison her, her only interaction with her stepmother was to trade bread for an apple. (Actually, some of these features would later become part of the Disney version, such as a previous romance between the Prince and Princess, and one temptation episode instead of three).

Illustrations by Charles Robinson

The Tsaritsa, time to pass,
Chatted with her looking-glass:
"Who in all the world is fairest
And has beauty of the rarest?"
Then what did the glass reply?
"You are fair, I can't deny.
But the Princess is the fairest
And her beauty is the rarest."
Up the proud Tsaritsa jumped.
On the table how she thumped,
Angrily the mirror slapping,
Slipper heel in fury tapping!
"O you loathsome looking-glass,
Telling lies as bold as brass!
By what right is she my rival?
Such young folly I shall bridle.
So she's grown up—me to spite! 

Little wonder she's so white:
With her bulging mother gazing
At that snow—what's so amazing!
Now look here, explain to me
How can she the fairer be? 

Charles Robinson's Snowdrop

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Grimms' Bluebeard

I was thrilled to receive my own copy of The Complete First Edition: The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, translated and edited by Jack Zipes, for Christmas!

This is the first time the complete first edition is available translated into English. Most "Complete Tales of the Brothers Grimm" you'll find these days mean "complete" as in "the last edition" (there were seven, spanning 45 years) which means there are many tales that were cut from the collection earlier on not included. So this is not just any Brothers Grimm collection! As I read Grimm fairy tales I often find myself wondering what the tales looked like before editing (especially after getting a little more insight into their collecting process after reading Wild Girl), and I can't wait to read tales side by side to compare and contrast!
Andrea Dezso's fabulous image for "Frog King," found in the book

One title that jumped out to me was seeing "Bluebeard" sitting among the other Grimm tales! One of the reasons some tales were cut from the first edition were because they were too "French," or, clearly descended from Perrault's tales and therefore not "authentically" German (as much as any of the tales collected by Grimms are actually authentically German...but that's a whole other discussion). Reading through the story, it's pretty clear that the story is very similar to Perrault's.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

However, there are some notable differences, and frankly I like this version much better! It might not be technically considered "authentic" folklore by some, because it was a literary tale that was then retold orally. But, every tale had to have its beginning somewhere, and it's fascinating to see what German people would have done as they reinterpreted Perrault's classic!

A common critique of Perrault's heroine is that she's pretty helpless, especially compared to folk heroines of similar murderous husbands, like in "Fitcher's Bird," who rescue themselves and sometimes even resurrect the dead bodies in the chamber. The Grimms' heroine plays a more active part in her rescue. She is frightened by her husband's blue beard, and anticipating that something is wrong, she proactively pulls her brothers aside and tells them "Dear brothers, if you hear me scream, leave everything standing or lying wherever you are, and come to my aid." Once Bluebeard does demand her life, she stalls for time with him while screaming for her brothers from the roof (no sister Anne in this version. In Perrault's tale, the heroine is just lucky that her brothers were coincidentally going to visit that day).
Benjamin Lacombe

Although I dislike the implication that all physical anomalies or differences merit fear, I like to think that this heroine just sensed that something was off about the man. She's certainly no better than Perrault's main character, who still initially disliked the beard, but was swayed by his wealth and parties, not by a conviction about judging people by their looks.

Also, unlike Perrault's story, the wife doesn't find the bloody chamber during a large party, in which one might assume she could call for help and have the support of friends when her murderous husband returned-she was all alone.

One other interesting feature in the Grimms' Bluebeard is the way the title character meets his fate-after his wife's brothers kill him, "he was hung up in the bloody chamber next to the women he had killed." I don't believe I've read other versions that end this way although it seems like obvious poetic justice for the man.

The Grimms' heroine still opens the chamber because of curiosity, but that curiosity is never condemned. There are no descriptions of how desperately she runs to the door, and no morals added afterwards about the dangers of curiosity. In fact, her curiosity comes partly from intelligence. After she discovered the treasures hidden in the other rooms of the castle, she got to thinking:
"Since the key was made of gold, she believed that the most precious things were probably kept there." (Perrault's key, by contrast, is not necessarily of gold; all we know is that it is little).
Set Brass Key Lock and SKELETON Keys with VICTORIAN Key Hole Antique Vintage Decor

This is especially interesting when you compare this tale to "The Golden Key," the tale found at the end of the Grimms' Second Volume of tales, and now traditionally the last tale in the book. It's a very short tale about a boy who finds a golden key on a cold winter's day, and thinks, "where there's a key, there must also be a lock." He digs into the ground to find a casket, searches all over for the keyhole, and finally finds the right keyhole for the key. The story ends with us waiting until he unlocks the casket completely, leaving the contents of the casket to your imagination.

Although it's ambiguous, it seems fairly clear that the boy is not condemned for being curious-coming across an abandoned key sort of gives the finder ownership (as a wife *should* have had ownership over the rooms in her own home), and it's seen as intelligent to deduce that there is a corresponding treasure. We, the readers, wait anxiously to find the contents of the mysterious box, or room.

2 pcs Large Skeleton Key Charms in Antique Bronze vintage style Pendant Ornate Fancy Victorian (BD082)

In Zipes' words, from the book's Introduction:
"The final tale, 'The Golden Key,' is highly significant because it leaves readers in suspense and indicates that tales are mysterious treasures. We just need to right key to discover and appreciate them. In this respect, however, the tales that are to be rediscovered and will become known are never the end of our quest to understand the mysteries of life, only the beginning. And so it is with the unknown original tales of the Brothers Grimm. They are only the beginning."

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Blogger Meetup (and Fairy Tale Tea!)

By far, one of the best perks of blogging is getting to interact with amazing people all over the world. I've been following Amy Elize Brown of The Willow Web (now transitioning to a new website, for a while now, and loving her insights into fairy tales, especially her research into Sleeping Beauty for her dissertation. You may remember reading some of her most interesting discoveries in her guest post here at Tales of Faerie, 5 Strangest Things I Learned about Sleeping Beauty.

Amy lives in England, so I had never really considered the possibility of being able to meet her in person, but I was thrilled to hear she was coming to Chicago last month! We met up for tea and then explored the German Christmas Market for a bit, a favorite Chicago tradition of mine.

Amy is just as sweet in real life as she is online! (Not to mention I am super jealous of her amazing British accent!) It was fun to search for all the fairy tale themed things at the Christmas Market, and you can see more of her pictures at her blog (including the Fairy Castle at the Museum of Science and Industry!). It was great to meet Amy and her friends, and she was kind enough to bring me some souvenirs from England, including this fabulously appropriate Winter Fairytale Tea!