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Australian Fairy Tale Conference 2018: Gardens of Good and Evil

A garden always has a point. ―  Elizabeth Hoyt (The Raven Prince)  The garden influences the type of fairy tales, folk tales, myths that are seeded in it.

What is the point of the garden, the bush, the landscape in folktales? With my colleagues, and friends, Christine, Phillippa we took our audience down a wonderland ‘rabbit hole’ as we explored the impact of transplanting traditional tales into new natural environments: the garden, the bush, the island. With the aid of illustrations we presented a dialogue (trialogue?) that challenged and questioned if, how and why, various natural settings have impacted on the mannerisms, behaviours and appearance of characters in retold/ adapted fairy tales and mythologies.  ·What is an ‘authentic' fairy garden? ·Does the oral tradition of fairy tale gardens and forests preclude all other variations? ·How do socio-cultural factors impact on the portrayal of the natural setting?
Reilly McCarron's definition of fairy tales is a worthy starting poin…

Reprinting early Australian fairy tales.

Should we reprint them? Or does their appeal remain fixed in the era they were written? Hart (1950) made the point that, ‘books flourish when they answer a need and die when they do not’ (285) and it is worth considering for example the fairytales of Tarella Quin whose fairy tale books were reprinted numerous times. Quin (aka Quin Daskein), published her first fairy tale, Gum Tree Brownie in 1907[1] with enlargements and variations appearing with regularity in 1918, 1925, 1934 and 1983. Her publisher was still publishing one hundred years after her first book which allowed the opportunity for re-publishing it.  It was believed that public taste indicated this book could become popular again.


However, when Gum Tree Brownie was republished as The Other Side of Nowhere: Fairy Stories of the Never Never (1983) two stories that did not suit the current socio-cultural environment were omitted. Cruelty and death are not seen as suitable topics for children’s books today - or at least not in t…

Early Australian Fairy Tales excerpts as presented at The Australian Fairy Tales Society Conference

AND why not fairies in Australia? Why should not our innumerable ferny glades, romantic valleys, mountainous passes, and lonesome glens, be peopled with fays and elves? Why should not Robin Goodfellow be found sitting jauntily astride the gorgeous waratah, or chasing the laughing jackass from its favourite bough? But all in good time. In the generations yet to come, unless the State schools make the little ones too learned, we shall have Australian fairy tales, stories in which goblin, kangaroos and emus, graceful sprites, and bearded magicians, will be found on every Fairyland in Australia. (1880, December 18, Illustrated Sydney News and New South Wales Agriculturalist and Grazier, p. 3)
Excerpts presented at The Australian Fairy Tales Society Conference, 2016
KING DUNCE. Australian Fairy Tales by Atha Westbury https://archive.org/details/australianfairyt00westiala Noel Biffin, son of a tinsmith, wants to be a king, and neglects his schoolwork but is chosen to be a king by the fairy Sir…

Except from 'True to the last or Aunt Milly's Christmas Box' Chapter 2

A very early fairy tale based around the Blowhole at Kiama by F. S. Wilson (Frederick Sydney Wilson, 1830-1901) who was a journalist and poet who contributed pieces to various colonial publications until the mid-1870s when he joined the Anglican ministry later becoming Archdeacon of Bourke, New South Wales.
"To thee the love of women hath gone down. Dark roll thy tides o'er manhood's noble head, O'er youth's bright locks, and beauty's flowery crown;  Yet must thou hear a voice-Restore the dead !  Earth shall reclaim her precious things from thee; Restore, restore the dead, thou Sea!" HEMANS
The sunlight glinted right joyously over the undulating line of western hills rilling in the background as you glanced from seaward over the quiet little town of Kiama. Here, the dusty red band of road leading inland, stretched abruptly from the foot of the town to the ridge of Pike's Hill, and then fell away quite as suddenly to the green mountain belted slopes and flats…