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Leicester Special Collections

Around the World

Many of the books in this case are English translations, which have been produced for the British market. During their translation, the story would have changed slightly from its original. They would also have been altered to fit the historical situation and to conform to what was considered as appropriate reading material for children.

Bestie del 900

Bestie del 900 / Con tavole incise in nero e a colori di Mino Maccari. (Firenze, 1951) [SCM 10404]

Themes: Animals and morals

Produced in Italy, the animals are used to describe the human condition.

Beasts of the 900 is a modern version of a bestiary- a descriptive or anecdotal treatise on various kinds of animal, especially a medieval work with a moralizing tone.

The author presents stories with very little difference between men and beasts.

Indian fairy tales

Indian fairy tales / selected and edited by Joseph Jacobs; illustrated by John D. Batten. (London, 1892)

Themes: Rajas, princes, animals, magic, morals

A Lesson for Kings

Starts with the classic opening, ‘Once upon a time’. It is the story of the future Buddha returning to life as Prince Brahma-datta who upon ascending the throne proves himself as being a wise and righteous ruler. He travels in order to hear what faults he may have, his doubts are ended when he meets another king who is also seeking out what faults he might have.

How the Wicked Sons Were Duped

The story of an old man who thinks that he is dying, so he gives his wealth to his previously attentive sons. Upon receiving their money the sons are cruel to their father who has now recovered his health. The father pretends that his visiting friend has given him a lot of money, and he uses stones and gravel placed in a bag as a deception. The greedy sons are once again attentive to the old man and only discover the deception when he dies.

Ottoman wonder tales

Ottoman wonder tales / by Lucy M.J. Garnett; with four page illustrations by Charles Folkard. (London, 1928)

Themes: Kings, Princes, morals,

Stories: Ashmedai and King Solomon

This tells the story of how King Solomon was tricked out of his throne by the djin, which is a spirit capable of assuming human or animal form and exercising supernatural influence, and how King Solomon regains his kingdom.

Norse fairy tales

Norse fairy tales / selected and adapted from the translations by Sir George Webbe Dasent; with illustrations by Reginald L. Knowles & Horace J. Knowles. (London, 1910)

Themes: Princesses, princes, animals, magic, morals, quick thinking

The Husband Who Was To Mind the House

The story of a man who thinks that his wife never does anything right. The wife has the idea that they swap their daily work. The man makes a mess of doing the housework as one task after another is ruined by misfortune and by his inability to get the timing right for the house tasks.

Well Done and Ill Paid

A short story of double crossing involving a man, a bear and a fox.

The man reluctantly makes a bargain with the bear to let him have his horse. However, the fox comes up with a plan to capture the bear in return for a sheep from the man’s flock. Having killed the bear with the fox’s help, the man reneges on the deal and sets his hounds after the fox who has this to say:


‘The Worst foes are those of one’s own house.’

Old Peter's Russian tales

Old Peter's Russian tales / by Arthur Ransome; with illustrations, cover design, and decoratinos by Dmitri Mitrokhin. (London, 1916)

Themes: Magic, princes and morals

A Chapter of Fish

One of the stories tells of how the smaller fish evaded the large hungry pike by moving into the smaller rivers where the pike could not venture.

The Hunter and His Wife

This is the story of a hunter who is given the ability to understand what all animals are saying as reward for saving a snake from a fire. His ability to hear what the animals are saying, particularly about himself, gives him the understanding and determination to stop being brow beaten.

Fairy Tales From Spain

Fairy Stories From Spain / J.M. Escamez. [n.d.]

Themes: morals and magic

The Island of the Brilliants

The story of a ship that is wrecked on the Island of the Brilliants, as recognised by the captain as they run aground.

The island is inhabited by dwarfs, who, according to the captain, kill those who cause them inconvenience but help those who are amiable. This turns out not to the case and the shipwrecked crew are held captive.

They are released by the one crew member who was not captured and after gathering a hoard of diamonds they return to Spain, set up an agricultural colony and live together as brothers.

The Devil’s Tournament

Tells of how a proud and villainous knight makes a pact with the devil in an effort to win the hand of the king’s daughter at a tournament.

The knight, with the devil’s assistance makes easy work of the opposition. However he alters his ways when the angel Michael takes part in the tournament and defeats the knight.

The evil knight repents of his treacherous ways and gives the devil a beating into the bargain.

The English fairy book

The English fairy book / [retold] by Ernest Rhys; with illustrations by Frederic C. Witney. (London, 1912)

Themes: Magic, morals, princesses

The Spriggan’s Child

A harsh little story told in rhyme of the mishaps and beatings due to a swap with a Spriggan’s child. A Spriggan is a malevolent Cornish fairy. The Spriggan child is beaten black and blue with the heel of a shoe.

Forty-four Turkish fairy tales

Forty-four Turkish fairy tales, collected and translated by Ignácz Kúnos; with illustrations by Willy Pogány. (London, [1913])

Themes: Magic, morals, princes and princesses

The Fortune Teller

The story of three sisters who have their fortune told with ominous words. The eldest is told, “Thy kismet is at the bottom of the well.” The middle sister is told, “Thy kismet is in the cemetery.” The youngest is told, “Thy kismet is in shame.”

These prophesies are realised as each of the sisters marry due to a strange twist of fate that was foretold by the fortune teller.

[Japanese fairy tales]

[Japanese fairy tales] / [told in English by Mrs. T.H. James, Basil Hall Chamberlain ... [et al.]] (London, 1907)

[Japanese fairy tales]

[Japanese fairy tales] / [told in English by Mrs. T.H. James, Basil Hall Chamberlain ... [et al.]] (London, 1907)

[Japanese Fairy Tales]

[Japanese fairy tales] / [told in English by Mrs. T.H. James, Basil Hall Chamberlain ... [et al.]] (London, 1907)

Themes: Magic, animals and morals.

Sixteen illustrated books that are printed on crepe paper.

Printed on crepe paper, these books feature beautifully illustrated Japanese fairy tales.

The Japanese fairy book

The Japanese fairy book / rendered into English by Yei Theodora Ozaki; with a frontispiece by Take Sato. (London, 1922)

The Tongue-Cut Sparrow

The story of a kindly man who looks after a sparrow, unfortunately his unkind wife dislikes the bird intensely. For the trivial offence of eating her starch, the woman cuts out the sparrow’s tongue while her husband is out working.

When the man returns and his pet is not there to greet him, he wonders what has happened. He eventually discovers the truth and goes in search of the sparrow.

The man finds the sparrow safe and well and is given a gift of gold. The wife wants more gold and goes to see the sparrow, she offers no apology for her actions. She is given a box and thinks that it contains more gold.

Stopping to look in the box, she finds herself surrounded by a cluster of evil spirits. She returns home and changes her ways.



Around the World