Saturday, 22 November 2014

Let's Have More Boy Fairies

When did fairies all become female, anyway?

Back in the 1920s and 30s, Cicely Mary Barker painted boy flower fairies as well as girls

There was no thought here that fairies were just for girls.

Shakespeare was much closer to the old traditions, when fairies could kidnap babies and leave a screeching changeling in their place, or lure you off to Fair Elfland like True Thomas, or trick a human into being their "tithe to hell", as in the folk song Tam Lin.
So he had a fairy feud accidentally involving the humans who were wandering round the wood - and not only were there male fairies, but Oberon and Titania were a quarelling married couple.

Brian Froud's fairy pictures come from this tradition, too, and there are plenty of male fairies in his work - but his Tarot cards, and even books like Good Fairy, Bad Fairy, are for adults rather than small children.

And recent stories for young children? It seems not. I got my hopes up when I found an article about a new boy fairy on the Disney website Pixie Hollow - but was disappointed to find that they couldn't even bring themselves to call him a fairy. Slate is a "Sparrow Man". Everything else, even the re-issued Flower Fairies, seem to be relentlessly pink and frilly, and female.

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