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  • Fairy Photographs from 1930 November 18, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy Photographs from 1930

    June 1930 and various snooty Britons are opening their spanking new copy of Tatler, the house magazine of Britain’s upper middle classes and down-at-heel aristocrats. But what is this on page 25: ‘a spring time fantasy’ involving some posh tots! It would not be very difficult to imagine that Titania and her friends Peace-blossom, Moth, […]

    Moth: Shakespeare’s Most Mysterious Fairy October 21, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Moth: Shakespeare's Most Mysterious Fairy

    An important fairy institution are bad productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which a little girl with brown butterfly wings runs on stage being announced as Moth, one of Titania’s maids. Yet bad moth costumes may all be based on a misunderstanding. The basics. Titania, it will be remembered, has four servants: Peaseblossom, Mustardseed, […]

    Little Fairy on the Prairie October 15, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Little Fairy on the Prairie

    Beach spends a lot of his time chasing fairies in eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century books. Because he doesn’t have an exceptional library to hand and because travel is so damn annoying he finds the best thing to do is buy books on the basis of emails from friends and readers; or ‘snippets’ on Google […]

    The Scholar Who Went with the Fairies October 5, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Scholar Who Went with the Fairies

    Peter Alderson Smith is an English scholar who in 1987 wrote a really very good book on Irish fairies: W. B. Yeats and the Tribes of Danu. In the middle of the book there is one of these passages where you think: what?!? Beach to help inattentive readers has italicized the relevant clause. Note that […]

    Winged Ninth-Century Elves?! August 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Winged Ninth-Century Elves?!

    Beach has previously interested himself with winged fairies and today he came across this very early image from the Utrecht Psalter. The Utrecht Psalter was almost certainly created in northern France in the ninth century and has fabulous line drawings that will bring you as close as you will ever come to the early Middle Ages: Beach […]

    London Fairy Roadrunner August 10, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    London Fairy Roadrunner

    This is a fabulous and often overlooked ‘fairy’ sighting. The inverted commas on ‘fairy’ because it is difficult to know quite what to make of this. The story appeared in the third volume of Thomas Crofton Croker’s Fairy Legends of Ireland, only it comes from London or the outskirts of that city, c. 1800. First some […]

    Dwarfknapped! July 23, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Dwarfknapped!

    This weird little passage comes from the thirteenth century Ynglinga saga. It is mainly about the mythic Norse past. But it also includes one of our earliest representatives of a dvergr or dwarf: in this case a rock fairy. The human victim, a Swedish king, is drunk and things don’t end particularly well. Sveigdir went […]

    Buckinghamshire Fairies and Little Witches July 12, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Buckinghamshire Fairies and Little Witches

    Fairy legends are common in the Celtic fringes and the north of Britain. They are to be found in northern England and south central England: they also occasionally crop up in the English Midlands. However, they were as rare as gold dust in south-eastern England and East Anglia by the time that folklore records were […]

    A Sieve, a Fairy, a Midwife and a Mystery June 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Sieve, a Fairy, a Midwife and a Mystery

    So here is a fairy mystery… In Romeo and Juliet Mercutio tells us that Queen Mab is ‘the fairies’ midwife’: a mysterious phrase that has never been explained. Most guides link it unconvincingly to a previous comment of Romeo’s. A much more interesting point of reference is  a fairy poem of Ben Jonson. Beach has […]

    William Blake and Bruno’s Fairies May 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    William Blake and Bruno's Fairies

    It is well known that William Blake drew and painted fairies and it is also a matter of record that Blake saw fairies. Blake, allegedly, described to a flabbergasted contemporary how he has witnessed a fairy funeral. Beach has looked in vain for other references to Blake kicking it up with the fairies and he […]

    Evans Wentz’s Quest for Fairies May 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Evans Wentz's Quest for Fairies

    Beach has recently become interested in Walter Yeeling Evans Wentz (or Evans-Wentz as he became)* the American mystic who in his late twenties and early thirties researched Breton, British and Irish fairies, before running off to India to become a guru. Many readers will know Evans Wentz for his Fairy Faith In Celtic Countries, the […]

    Shakespeare and Fairy Wings April 20, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Shakespeare and Fairy Wings

    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 […]

    The Supernatural on Ngram April 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    The Supernatural on Ngram

    Beach has recently been messing about with Ngram, as his leisurely ancestors used to mess around on southern English rivers. Ngram for the uninitiated is a Google tool that allows the user to measure the frequency of certain words in Google Books. It is not as sophisticated as Google Analytics, which measures search terms. But […]

    In Search of the Anomaly Gap, 1700-1800 March 29, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Anomaly Gap, 1700-1800

    Beach has noted before on this site the way that in the enlightenment there is an ‘anomaly gap’. It becomes, from about 1700 to 1800, unfashionable to speak about the paranormal, even in jesting terms. Actually this is a very approximate rule. In Beach’s experience some forms of the supernatural are acceptable. For instance, ghosts […]

    A Green Stranger or Angel or Fairy? March 27, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Green Stranger or Angel or Fairy?

    Lots of supernatural creatures from the Green Knight to aliens are green: and the general, though by no means universal opinion of folklorists has been that green is for vegetation. Here is one reference from the late 17C* that has  confused Beach. We are in Westmorland in north-west England and this is from a one […]

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