‘Most of the wild and cultivated plants included in the Flower Fairy books can still be easily found, and still, we hope, continue to inspire future generations of all ages.’
From the introduction
When Cicely Mary Barker wrote and illustrated her first book, Flower Fairies of the Spring, little could she have imagined that it would be the foremost title in a best-selling series that remains beloved almost 100 years later. This new Folio Society box set sees Barker’s exquisite paintings and nature-inspired poems presented as a complete collection, in an exclusive new layout that best displays these imaginative illustrated verses. Working closely with the Frederick Warne Archive, we have carefully restored the original colour paintings, and the set also includes Barker’s line drawing decorations, as well as screen-printed bindings with individual designs inspired by fairies from each volume.
Printed full-colour throughout, featuring all existing fairy illustrations, plus further decorative line drawings.
Gold and silver gilded page edges
Printed and blocked slipcase
5¾˝ x 4¼˝
Paintings restored from first editions of the books
Barker’s whimsical verses introduce the reader to fairies that appear throughout the seasons, as different trees and plants bloom. For this beautifully conceived box set, we returned to the first editions of all eight original Flower Fairies books and designed a gorgeous new boxed set, including every fairy painted by Barker. Each poem is individually presented on the facing page to its relevant painting, just as in the first editions of Barker’s little volumes, while our font has been carefully selected for its close resemblance to the original. Barker’s paintings are both botanically accurate and exquisite in their execution, and these delicate watercolours have been painstakingly restored from the original editions, which are held at the Frederick Warne Archive.
A botanically accurate guide for children
In an era when children are increasingly urbanised and distanced from nature, and when rewilding and environmental issues are the focus of daily concern, it has never been more timely to restore their connection to the natural world through reading and magic. All of the plants and flowers depicted in Barker’s paintings are easily identifiable in gardens, parks and woodlands, so these beautiful characters can educate as well as entertain. In his newly commissioned foreword for the collection, botanist and former Honorary Secretary of the Folklore Society Roy Vickery writes about the relevance of everyday plants and flowers. From Victorian Britain to the tech-savvy 20th century, the gentle enchantment and intimacy of the Flower Fairies ensure their enduring fascination and connection with the natural world.
ABOUT CICELY MARY BARKER
Cicely Mary Barker was born in Croydon, South London, in 1895. Epileptic as a child, she was educated at home and took correspondence courses in art for several years. From 1911 she began to sell her drawings and paintings, many of which were sold on as postcards, in order to supplement her family’s income. She found wider acclaim as an artist with her delightful Flower Fairies books, the first of which, Flower Fairies of the Spring, was printed in 1923. From 1924, children attending her sister’s nursery school also modelled for Barker’s paintings. Barker said, ‘For many years I had an atmosphere of children about me – I never forgot it.’ Her flowers were painted from life, with frequent reference to specimens at Kew Gardens. Although Barker painted and published many works, both secular and devotional, it was the Flower Fairies that became internationally beloved and remain so. She died in 1973.
ABOUT ROY VICKERY
Roy Vickery has been studying plant folklore for many years, his Vickery’s Folk Flora being published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 2019. He worked in the Department of Botany at the Natural History Museum from 1965 to 2007 and remains a Scientific Associate at the Museum.
Flower Fairies of the Spring Flower Fairies of the Summer Flower Fairies of the Autumn Flower Fairies of the Winter Flower Fairies of the Garden Flower Fairies of the Trees Flower Fairies of the Wayside A Flower Fairy Alphabet
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