A Short History of Fantasy–Part 4
A Short History of Fantasy–Part 4 avatar

In part 3, we explored the fantasy of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Now, we’ll look at the nineteenth century when what we think of as modern fantasy really got its start.

Jacob and Wilhelm GrimmIt was mainly in Victorian England that fairy tales such as those related by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen were relegated to the nursery by most adults. In a strange way this behavior led to the spread of and love of fantasy and tales of the imagination.

The beginning of the century saw the publication of two great collections of fairy tales; two volumes of approximately 200 tales collected and rewritten by the Brothers Grimm, published in 1812 and 1814, and original tales written by Hans Christian Anderson in his Fairy Tales published in 1835.

In the United States, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe were writing creepy fantasy tales like Hawthorne’s “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” (1837) and “Rappaccini’s Daughter” (1844) and Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840).

Back in England, some of their most prestigious writers had turned their hands to fantasy. Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol with its famous ghosts in 1843; Robert Browning wrote two fantastic poems; The Pied Piper of Hamelin in 1842 and Childe Roland to thLewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glasse Dark Tower Came in 1855.

Lewis Carroll  produced two masterpieces of fantasy, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 and Through the Looking Glass in 1871. These books seemed to be written for children but were also aimed at adults due to their satiric nature.

William Morris' The Wook Beyond the WorldWilliam Morris created The Wood Beyond the World in 1894 and The Well at the World’s End in 1896. These books are important because Morris invented a completely designed fantasy world, not Earth as we know it or as we see it in our mythologies.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1888 and The Bottle Imp in 1891 both of which have become classics in the fantasy genre.

Andrew Lang's Green Fairy BookAndrew Lang continued in the spirit of the Grimm brothers with the publication of his books of fairy tales: Blue Fairy Book in 1889, Red Fairy Book in 1890, Green Fairy Book in 1892, and Yellow Fairy Book in 1894

At the end of the century in 1897, Bram Stoker wrote his great dark fantasy, Dracula, based on legends from Transylvania (a real region in Romania) and on earlier novels about vampires. It is undoubtedly the most famous and also one of the best novels in the vampire fantasy genres, even today.

All of these works led to the explosion of fantasy writing for both children and adults that came about in the twentieth century. We’ll start to explore that in our next chapter in the history of fantasy.

2011, Decision Consulting, Inc. (DCI). All rights reserved. All copies must include this copyright statement.

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