Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sex, drugs, and fantasy – The Victorian obsession with FAERIES

Posted by: Dani Harper, AUTHOR

"Lily Fairy" 1888 by
Luis Ricardo Falero
[Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
We’ve been Disneyized almost from birth to think of faeries as pretty little beings with gossamer wings. They live among flowers, drink dew, and leave a trail of magical dust wherever they go. But it’s not really Mickey’s fault.

Blame it on the Victorians.

During the nineteenth century, there was an enormous revival of interest in faeries. They appeared in abundance in Victorian art and literature. But not as they once were! The faeries of legend were powerful. They almost never had wings—they didn’t need them. Beauty? The terms faery, fairy, and fae cover an enormous variety of creatures throughout the UK and Europe. Tall and short, exquisite and repulsive, dark and light, hunched and scrabbling, gigantic and toothy, two-legged and four-legged... Some fae beings, like the Pooka, changed shape so often that their true form can’t be agreed on. Whatever their appearance, most faeries were amoral creatures, recognizing neither right nor wrong according to petty human standards. Yet they often abided by ancient laws that were a mystery to mortals.   

One thing above all:  faeries were not to be trifled with!

But trifle with them is exactly what the Victorians did. First, they recreated faeries to be pretty, sweet-natured, and innocent. They gave them wings—but diminished them in stature. Cute was name of the game. Like Beanie Babies and Pokémon, faeries became a highly fashionable obsession and a cultural phenomenon. But why? Nineteenth century society was extremely uptight about a lot of things – science, technology, and progress in general. Class distinctions and proper etiquette. Oh, and sex. The Victorians were synonymous with sexual repression.

Illustrations from "The Water-Babies - A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby" by Charles Kingsley, illustrated by Warwick Goble [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Enter the magical and sensual world of the faery. A perfect fantasy, one which was socially acceptable to indulge in. Certainly no one questioned the art of the period, where faeries might appear wholly or partly naked… It’s rumored that Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, counted 165 or so nude faeries in the 1849 painting "The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania" by Sir Joseph Noel Paton (a portion of which appears below).


"Study for The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania" By Joseph Noel Paton - Unknown, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=111976

"Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!” ~ William Butler Yeats

Hand in hand with this delightsome escapism was a renewed fascination with the paranormal. In addition to experimenting with the supernatural through spirit rappings, table tipping, and séances, many notable people argued for the reality of faeries on scientific grounds. One of the top proponents of their existence was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author and creator of Sherlock Holmes. 

It is also a fact that Arthur’s father, Charles Doyle, firmly believed in faeries, and produced many paintings of them throughout his life. He was just one of countless artists who based their entire careers on producing fanciful artwork of the faery realm. More than a few of these paintings, however, were known to have been produced under the influence of drugs. In Victorian England, laudanum, cocaine, morphine, opium and many other mind-altering substances were readily available, and famous faery artists such as John Anster Fitzgerald and Richard Dadd experimented with drugs freely, citing them as sources of inspiration. 


"The Stuff that Dreams are made of" By John Anster Fitzgerald, 1858 - http://art-magique.blogspot.com/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20746146

Perhaps that’s why some of the major faery works included not only the beautiful but the ugly. Demonic-looking creatures appeared side by side with lovely and innocent sprites. Grotesque beings interacted with sublime. It’s no surprise that a number of famous faery artists (including Charles Doyle) ended up in asylums for the rest of their lives.

Or perhaps it was just a little revenge exacted by the real faeries…


>>>>><<<<< 

Hi, I’m Dani Harper, and I bring ancient faery legends to modern-day America with my Grim Series.  Storm Warrior, Storm Bound, and Storm Warned are available on Amazon.  Watch for Book 4, Storm Crossed, in 2017.  Check out all my novels on my Amazon Author Page, or go to my website at http://www.daniharper.com

The Grim Series by Dani Harper

DON'T FORGET TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!


Leave a comment below telling me what you’re reading right now! 

(Psst - I'm reading "Shadowed Souls", a dark anthology featuring Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin J. Anderson, etc.)

Open until midnight Eastern time on November 22, 2016. I'll draw a winner at random, and announce it right here in the comments the following day. 

Giveaway is READER’S CHOICE of any published book in my Grim Series, in paperback or MP3-CD audiobook. 

Prize will be delivered by Amazon. Open to US, UK, or Canada.

32 comments:

  1. You always have the best posts... I'm reading Belle Chase and listening to The Trouble With Mistletoe.

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    1. Thank you! I hear that Jill Shalvis has very humorous romances -- I'll have to try this one!

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    2. CONGRATULATIONS TO LINDALOU! Your name was drawn as the winner of my giveaway. Please email me at dani@daniharper.com.

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  2. Very cool post! I'm reading the Amaranthine series by Joleene Naylor

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    1. Thanks Teresa. I loved Shades of Gray, but got sidetracked before continuing to the next book!

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  3. Beware the cute fairys, they're undercover Faeries waiting to whisk you off to there world!! Im reading my book club book "Secrets of the Sewing Bee" by Kate Thompson its ser during the 2nd World War in London about the lives of a group of women working in a factory making uniforms

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    1. Definitely never trust a faery! That sounds like a good book -- I've noticed an upsurge of stories set in the WWII era.

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  4. Love this post. I'm reading Nocturnal Seduction by Renee Mason it's part of her Symphony of Light series.

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    1. Thanks Bobbi! Hey, the hero in Nocturnal Seductions is named Rhys, just like the hero in my novel, Storm Warrior. LOVE that name!

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  5. Love the Fae information! Currently, I'm trying to find the time to read Sin City Succubus by C.S. Anderson.

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    1. I just read that recently and I totally enjoyed it. Chuck Anderson is working on a sequel and I can't wait!

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  6. I'm listening to Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. But at the same time studying the Snowflake Method, and doing NaNoWriMo. Love your post.

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    1. Deborah Harkness is amazing. I was gaining some ground in NaNoWriMo until I decided to redo a chapter. Been cutting and pasting ever since!

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  7. I'm reading "The Fairy Queen" by Jovee Winters. This book is part of a great series that crosses mythologies and pantheons. Great author.

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    1. I had to go check that out on Amazon. Looks like a great series!

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  8. I had no idea that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed in faeries. And using drugs for inspiration...no wonder artists ended up dead early or going insane .

    I'm reading Dying Breath by Kory Shrum

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    1. There's a really interesting article on Doyle on the Standford University site - http://sherlockholmes.stanford.edu/biography.html

      I'm woefully behind on Kory Shrum's books - I'm still on "Dying for a Living"!

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  9. I'm just starting Magically Delicious by Robyn Peterman!

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    1. Made me instantly think of the old jingle for Lucky Charms breakfast cereal! Looks like a cute series. :)

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  10. Reading Thunderstruck by Amanda Macintyre thank you for the chance

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    1. Omigosh, I read the blurb and HAD to buy it! Thanks for the recommendation!

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  11. I didnt know as much about fairies as I thought I did lol.. thank you for showing me the error of my ways. I just finished reading Christine Feehan's newest book "Leopard's Fury" and about to start "Final Ride" by Chelsea Cameron.

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    1. I need to catch on Christine Feehan's latest. She's the one that got me started on paranormal romance with a short story called Dark Dream!

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  12. I loved this. Right now I am a wee bit behind but I am currently reading A shiver of light by laurell k hamilton, then crimson death.

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    1. Thanks! I've read most of the Anita Blake series, but can you believe I've never read a Meredith Gentry book? I need to correct this oversight.

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  13. I already knew most of these facts and am still fascinated by them.
    I have about five books on the go right now, but two of them are anthologies so it's more a matter of reading short stories last thing at night from one of them.
    If you are interested they are: Toni Griffin's audio version of Corey, paperback edition of Terry Brook's Magic Kingdom for sale - SOLD, and three ebooks, Death Dancer by Tara Lain, Turn The Page by Tempeste O'Riley and Star Heroes by various authors.

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    1. I loved Magic Kingdom for Sale! And I'm glad to see someone else who has several books on the go at once. I have books scattered all over the house that I read at the same time.

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  14. I'm currently reading "remember me"by Sophie Kinsella but I've stalled a bit on it. Might move on to another book and come back to it.

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    1. Love the premise of "Remember Me?" Imagine waking up skinny and rich!!! LOL

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  15. I had no idea the drug culture was that prevalent in Victorian society! With all the mixing of drugs they must have done no wonder they were "inspired" & eventually lost their minds.

    I'm reading a couple ebooks & a library book "Throw In The Trowel" in a cozy mystery series by Kate Collins.

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    1. It was amazingly socially acceptable in many circles. The character Sherlock Holmes used cocaine and morphine on occasion to escape boredom.

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  16. CONGRATULATIONS TO LINDALOU! Your name was drawn as the winner of my giveaway. Please email me at dani@daniharper.com.

    ReplyDelete

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