Shakespeare and Fairy Wings April 20, 2017Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback
In the 1890s Samuel Miller published a series of pamphlets entitled Shakespearian Costumes. The pamphlets were supposed to recreate the historical versions of Shakespeare’s characters from various plays. Indeed, on the title page we are informed: ‘compiled from authentic sources as given by Montfaucon, Royal MSS., Holbein, Zuccaro, Strutt etc.’ Beach does not look forward to discovering the sources for all of Millers’s costumes, but any investigation into fairy wings could hardly ignore this material. Here are some winged characters from Merry Wives of Windsor one of Shakespeare’s plays with fairies. The Tempest and Midsummer Night’s Dream seem not to have been covered. These images remind us that Victorian productions had winged fairies, but if the archives for this book were reliable this may have been true of sixteenth and seventeenth and eighteenth century productions too. Of the five images here all have a reference to wings in the text apart from Pistol as a demon: were wings an indulgence then of the illustrator? Perhaps
Nothing is said of the type of wings the demon goblin wears.
The two child fairies, meanwhile, have wings: ‘small wings and ‘wings’. Again there is no clue as to what they would have been made of.