The Fables of Aesop

Illustrated by Edward J. Detmold

Translated by Mrs Edgar Lucas

Now in its twelfth Folio Society printing, The Fables of Aesop includes all of the storyteller’s best-loved tales, exquisitely illustrated by the great Victorian illustrator Edward J. Detmold.


It seems incredible that a freed Phrygian slave living in the 6th century was the author of more than 300 tales that remain popular, relevant and universally read 1,500 years later. However, the legend of Aesop is almost as fantastical as the stories he created, his existence variously proven and doubted but his name still attributed to this great body of work.

Avoid a remedy that is worse than the disease.
  1. From ‘The Hawk, The Kite and The Pigeons’

Production Details

Bound in cloth blocked with Detmold’s original design redrawn by David Eccles

Set in Modern Monotype Extended

168 pages

Frontispiece and 22 colour plates and 16 black & white integrated illustrations

Coloured page tops

Plain slipcase

10˝ x 7½˝

Passed down for centuries

According to legend, Aesop was born mute but was granted the power to speak and craft fables in return for his generosity to one of the attendants of the goddess Isis. His stories were passed down for centuries as spoken tales before they were eventually written down for posterity. From ’The Hare and the Tortoise’ to ’The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’, Aesop’s fables remain the most widely read and beloved children’s tales of all time.

Using animals as the mouthpiece for morality

The majority of Aesop’s 300-odd fables are narrated by animals, as is common across many tales with a moral undertone. However, although they display animalistic traits, the protagonists reflect the actions and reactions of humans and are the mouthpieces of reasoning and moral stance. In ‘The Wolf and the Crane’, a wolf hires the bird to dislodge a bone from its throat but refuses to pay his debt.

In serving the wicked, expect no reward, and be thankful if you escape injury for your pains.
  1. From ‘The Wolf and The Crane’

When pigeons call upon a hawk to protect them from a kite, many of them end up slain; more than could possibly have been killed by the hawk. Aesop’s moral conclusion is to ’avoid a remedy that is worse than the disease’.

The classic 1909 edition illustrated by Edward J. Detmold

Our edition reproduces the classic 1909 text and is illustrated with 23 stunning colour plates and 20 black-and-white illustrations by the famed Victorian natural history illustrator Edward J. Detmold. Detmold, in collaboration with his brother, had achieved great success with his illustrations of The Jungle Book in 1903 – also available in a Folio edition –  and his otherworldly style lent itself perfectly to Aesop’s tales. Here, the animals’ faces are, by turn, doleful, contemplative and mischievous, and the illustrations themselves evoke period atmosphere with sepia tones and delicate strokes. A proud eagle adorns the two-colour binding, perching inside a blocked floral border, which has been redrawn for this edition by David Eccles.

About Edward J. Detmold

Edward Julius Detmold (1883–1957) was born in London, England. He had a twin brother, Charles Maurice Detmold. They came from a family of art connoisseurs and painters, and were encouraged in their interest in natural history and art. They both exhibited from an early age and collaborated on their first book in 1899, Pictures from Birdland. They subsequently collaborated on a number of books, including The Jungle Book (1903) and became two of the great illustrators of the period. Maurice took his own life in 1908 and Edward continued to work as an illustrator. In 1909, he completed the illustrations for The Fables of Aesop, one of his most famous works. Edward died in 1957, aged 73. 


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