Doyle, Richard In Fairyland, a series of pictures from the Elf-world, by Richard Doyle. With a poem, by William Allingham. Engraved and printed by Edmund Evans.
London, Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, 1870.
This large folio is a recognised masterpiece of Victorian children’s book production. Edmund Evans, a forerunner in the use of colour in printing, engraved and printed the frontispiece and the 15 full colour plates in the book. The illustrations are typical of the work of Richard Doyle, who had made his name in the creation of fantastic fairy worlds. He worked for a number of years as an illustrator in Punch and also illustrated some of Dickens’ Christmas Books. In Fairyland is generally considered his masterpiece, and the illustrations present a fully-realised and exquisite, if strangely discomforting world of fairies, elves, insects and birdlife. The author of the poem, William Allingham, was born in Ballyshannon in Donegal, though he spent much of his life in England. He was well-known in his time as a minor poet and as a novelist. The poem tells the story of the courtship of a fairy princess by the fairy Brightkin and follows a day in fairyland from dawn until dusk.