golden book of fairy tales


Day 344: Warwick Goble

Warwick Goble (22 November 1862 – 22 January 1943) was an illustrator of children’s books. He specialized in Japanese and Indian themes.

Goble was born in Dalston, north London, the son of a commercial traveller, and educated and trained at the City of London School and the Westminster School of Art. He worked for a printer specializing in chromolithography and contributed to the Pall Mall Gazette and the Westminster Gazette.

In the 1890s, he contributed half-tone illustrations to monthly magazines such as Strand Magazine, Pearson’s Magazine, and The Boy’s Own Paper. In 1893, he was exhibiting at the Royal Academy. In 1896, he began illustrating books. In 1898, he was the first to illustrate H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, having illustrated it for Pearson’s Magazine in 1897. He briefly continued with scientific romance themes.

In 1909, he became resident gift book illustrator for MacMillan and produced illustrations for The Water Babies, Green Willow, and Other Japanese Fairy Tales, The Complete Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Stories from the Pentamerone, Folk Tales of Bengal, The Fairy Book, and The Book of Fairy Poetry. During World War I, he was employed in the drawing office of Woolrich Arsenal, and volunteered for service with the Red Cross in France. He worked occasionally for New York MacMillan, and produced editions of Treasure Island and Kidnapped. Goble gradually gave up illustration to pursue sculling, cycling, and travelling. He died in his Surrey home in 1943.”



There’s something below the surface in this story about a good brother, following simple instructions, and a strange, wise little fox that carries people on its tail, but I was distracted by the sheer amount of gold objects in this one story. Golden Bird! Golden Horse! Golden Apples! Golden Castle! And the King must own them all! With the sheer amount of gold things that pop up in fairy tale land, you’d think it would hold no intrinsic value because it is apparently not rare whatsoever. I mean, when you’ve got Golden Apples growing readily on a tree, its wholly and completely worthless to base a monetary system off the stuff. Economics 101.


Never incur the wrath of a sparrow. If you kill its dog friend, it will strike forth in furious vengeance: “Not unfortunate enough yet…it shall cost you your life!” This bird emptied out all the offending man’s wine, prompted him to cut off his own horses’ heads by accident, tore apart the interior of his house, tricked the man into chopping up all his good furniture, let himself finally be swallowed by the man, only to trick the wife into beheading her own husband as the sparrow escaped without a scratch! This bird is Inigo Montoya. You killed its dog. Prepare to die.


I guess there’s something relatable about a story of a stupid spouse and how they bring the other spouse to ruin. But the stupid spouse in question kept doing as she was asked literally and after she got it wrong, stated: “ Indeed…I did not know that, you should have told me.” Honestly? I couldn’t agree with her more. If you tell her to make the house secure, surely you meant making the door secure. And what better way of making the door secure than by taking it off the hinges and with you so you know it won’t be stolen? That’s good ole logic. You must be more specific, dear.


Out of all the fairy tales Walt Disney could have chosen to make films for, I can’t believe he skipped this one. It’s got some length to it, and it is a pretty compelling tale. Long lost brothers; the two befriend beasts of the wild; dragon fighting to win the hand of the princess; betrayal; odyssey; and the return to claim what is rightfully theirs. You can’t tell me that’s not more interesting that Snow White and the Nameless Dwarves.

Plus, there’s a really weird scene where this guy’s head gets chopped off because his animal companions don’t guard him; but no fear! There’s a magic root that will cure him and magically put his head back on! Except…wait for it…the animals put his head on backwards! As this simply won’t do, the animals have to kill him again by tearing his head off, give him the magic root again, and place it back on correctly. COMEDY. GOLD.

East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon.
Sir George Webbe Dasent.(1817-1896).
A collection of stories translated from Peter Christen Asbjørnsen (1812-1885) and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe (1813-1882).
David McKay, Publisher
604-608 S.Washington Square, Philadelphia.
Published : c.1921.

“Twelve Wild Ducks”

But now it happened once, when she was out on the moor to pick thistle-down, - and if I don’t mistake, it was the very last time she was to go thither, - it happened that the young King who ruled that land was out hunting, and came riding across the moor and saw her. So he stopped there…


100 Illustrators that all Illustrators should know: #58

Sheilah Beckett (1913-2013)

Country: USA

Famous for: Golden Books, Fairy Tale illustration, Children’s books

Influenced: Animation, Fantasy art, Children’s book illustration

Influenced by: Presumably Aubrey Beardsley and Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Howard Pyle

Sheilah Beckett was an American illustrator of over 70 fairy tale stories, most notably for Golden Books. Beckett was one of several talented women working at Charles E. Cooper’s advertising art studio in the 1940s and 50s, a studio that employed other greats such as Coby Whitmore, Al Moore, and others. Beckett is known for her whimsical, decorative and  beautifully handled fairy tale illustrations, the likes of which have been featured in such books and stories as The Twelve Days of Christmas, Snow White and Rose Red, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses, among others. Even at the age of 97 in 2010, Beckett was still taking on illustration work, even migrating over to using digital tools like Photoshop and a Wacom tablet (which were used to create the two middle examples of her work above). Sadly, Beckett passed away at the age of 100 in 2013. 



Welp. We’ve hit the mafia stage of Grimm’s Fairy Tales: the first appearance of a severed horse’s head. A maid forces a princess to switch places with her so she can marry the king. Once this is done, she has the princess’s talking horse beheaded so it can’t tell the truth to anyone. However, the horse’s head is hung on the walls of the city, and it can still talk. Creepy, I know. When the unlucky princess sees the severed head, she bemoans what happened to the poor horse and the horse head consoles the young princess about how ill life has treated her. How ill life has treated her? YOU ARE DEAD, HORSE HEAD; I’m pretty sure you’re worse off than she is.


The premise here is that little Thumbling is suckled (yes, suckled) by a giant for a few years and he grows into a giant of immense strength. Good for him, right? Well, it seems that he’s got a bit of the little man syndrome. He takes a series of jobs, but refuses any kind of payment. Instead, he takes his payment in a certain amount of blows to his master at the end of the year. And by blow, I mean strike. And by strike, I mean kick’em in the rear end. After a few of his masters go painfully aerial once he takes his ‘payment,’ I think it’s probably safe to say ole Giant Thumbling is more than likely unemployed at this time. Would you hire him?


Once you get past the underground princesses, multi-headed dragons, betraying brothers, and flying gnomes, there’s a phrase at the end of this tale that in a manner of speaking breaks the fourth wall of the story. The narrator moves away from the action of the story, and states:

…on that occasion I wore a pair of glass shoes, and I struck them against a stone, and they said, ‘Klink,’ and were broken.

This is the second time this has happened so far in this collection; the first was in #84 HANS MARRIED. I ignored it at the time as a weird Grimm thing; but now, I’m curious. What’s with the glass shoes that say Klink?! More to come, I hope.


Do you think the characters in Fairy Tales ever get tired of being the casebook scenarios to help us avoid immoral behavior? Do they know they are making bad decisions so that we can make good ones by their poor example? I mean, they have to at least know what they’re doing is dumb. In this tale, a father foolishly gets tricked into giving his son to a gnome. The gnome tricks the son into a boat where he gets stranded. The son let’s himself die and be resurrected to save a princess. The princess then betrays him and abandons him far from home. The boy then tricks three giants out of their inheritance to get back home. He finds his princess marrying someone else, and then kills them all.

Are you telling me that somewhere along the way someone in this story didn’t realize that they were making a stupid decision? They’ve got to be conscious of the fact it’s all going to end badly, right? I just want to take a moment to thank all the characters of Fairy Tales out there: I appreciate all the madness you go through for us.



The Golden Mermaid and others stories.
Edited by Andrew Lang.
Illustrated by Henry J.Ford.
Longmans, Green and Co.
London - New York -Toronto

- The Golden Mermaid -

” When she drew near the boat he saw that she was far more beautiful than any mortal he had ever beheld. She swam round the ship for some time, and then swung herself gracefully on board, in order to examine the beautiful silken more closely. Then the Prince seized her in his arms, and kissing her tenderly on the cheeks and lips, he told her she was his for ever ; at the same moment the boat turned into a wolf again, which so terrified the mermaid that she clung to the Prince for protection.
So the golden mermaid was succefully caught,…”