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Leicester Special Collections


The Metamorphosis

Ovid's Metamorphoses: in fifteen books. Translated by the most eminent hands. Adorn'd with sculptures. (London, 1717) [SCD 00387]

Circa 8 AD

Completed around 8AD, Ovid’s Metamorphoses is viewed as an epic and the two hundred and fifty stories describe life, death and transformation.

Ovid was born Publius Ovidius Naso on March 20, 43BC , a year after the death of Julius Caesar. He lived in a time of calm and prosperity, and because of his family’s wealth, Ovid was able to write in peace.

[The Metamorphosis, or, Golden ass]

Apuleius, The Metamorphosis, or, Golden ass / of Apuleius; translated from the original Latin by Thomas Taylor. (Birmingham, 1822) [SCM 07035]

Circa AD 100-200

Elements of Ovid’s Metamorphoses were used by Apuleius for his work called The Metamorphosis. The tale of Cupid and Psyche even begins with the line “Now there were in a certain city, the king, and the queen…”

Lucius, the hero of the book resorts to witchcraft in order to experience the sensations of a bird. However the attempt fails and the work describes his life as an animal, who needs to locate and eat rose petals in order to revert to being a man.

Little is known of Apuleius, Born 125 AD. He was the recipient of a large inheritance, which Apuleius spent on education, including initiations into mystery religions, probably including those of the gods Dionysus and Isis.

The Panchatantra reconstructed

The Panchatantra reconstructed: an attempt to establish the lost original Sanskrit text of the most famous of Indian story-collections on the basis of the principal extant versions / text, critical apparatus, introduction, translation, by Franklin Edgerton. (New York, 1967) [891.2 PAN] 

Circa AD 200-300

The timelines for this work are highly debatable, however it has been included at this point.

The Panchatantra, also spelled Pancatantra, is a collection of Indian animal fables, these have been widely circulated and re-told.

In theory, the Panchatantra is intended as a textbook of niti (“policy,” especially for kings and statesmen). The original Sanskrit text is a mixture of prose and stanzas of verse with the stories contained within.

Unfortunately there are no illustrations to go with the wonderful titles contained within the book and reproduced from the Contents page.

The book is written in Sanskrit, with the Foreword and Typographical Devices and Abbreviations in English.

Stories from the Arabian Nights

Stories from the Arabian Nights / based on a translation from the Arabic by Edward William Lane; selected, edited and arranged for young people by Frances Jenkins Olcott; with fifteen full-page illustrations by Monro S. Orr.

(London, 1913)

Circa 900 AD

Stories from the 1001 nights, most commonly known in English as The Arabian nights, have been enormously popular in the West since the 18th century. We do not know the origins of this collection of wondrous tales, although it would appear to have been told in Arabic and Persian from the 8th century.

There are numerous versions of the stories and the themes include adventure and magic. These stories were likely to have travelled along trade routes to reach the West.

Stories of Beowulf

Stories of Beowulf / [Beowulf]; told to the children by H.E. Marshall; with pictures by J.R. Skelton. (London, 1908) [SCS 04484]

Circa 1000 AD

Beowulf is a story that is most certainly not for children and is yet another book that cannot easily be dated. The only surviving manuscript is from circa 1000AD.

Written in England but set in Scandanavia, Beowulf tells of how the Grendel has ravaged Heorot (the Great Hall). Beowulf fights and kills both the Grendel and the Grendel’s avenging mother.

Beowulf becomes king and reigns for fifty years but now the land is being ravaged by a fire breathing dragon. Beowulf kills the dragon but is mortally wounded.

The fairy tales of Madame D'Aulnoy, newly done into English

The fairy tales of Madame D'Aulnoy, newly done into English / with an introduction by Anne Thackeray Ritchie; illustrated by Clinton Peters. (London, 1900) [SCM 11874]


In the 17th century, the French Salons were filled with authors of fairy tales. The most prolific and influential of these were Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy  and Charles Perrault.

‘These special stories have fallen out of circulation, since the days when the French ladies and gentlemen all read fairy tales together, and the order of the Terrace was instituted for little Louis XV…It was not only children who liked fairy tales in those days: there was a general fashion for them.’ P. ix

Madame D'Aulnoy (born 1651) was a noble woman who published twelve books. Her most popular works were her fairy tales and adventure stories as told in Les Contes des Fées (Tales of fairies) and Contes Nouveaux, ou Les Fées à la Mode.

Contes des fées

Contes des fées / par C.H. de Perrault; édition illustrée par Henry Emy. (Paris), [n.d.]


The book contains the story titled Le Petit Chaperon Rouge, which is the original Red Riding Hood.

Grimms' goblins and wonder tales

Grimms' goblins and wonder tales / J. Grimm; translated from the German by Mrs H.B. Paull and Mr L.A. Wheatley. (London), [189-?]


Brothers Grimm, German folklorists and linguists (known for Grimm’s Fairy Tales), built on the traditions of other countries such as: Scandinavia, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, England, Serbia, and Finland.

Andersen's fairy tales : selected and edited for children

Andersen's fairy tales: selected and edited for children / Hans Christian Andersen. (London), [19-?]


Hans Christian Andersen wrote 168 fairy tales and some these are as popular today as when they were first written.