The University of Kansas

Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Books on a shelf

Welcome to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library blog! As the special collections and archives library at the University of Kansas, Spencer is home to remarkable and diverse collections of rare and unique items. Explore the blog to learn about the work we do and the materials we collect.

That’s Distinctive: Tales of the Fairies

Check the blog each Friday for a new “That’s Distinctive!” post. I created this series to provide a lighthearted glimpse into the diverse and unique items at Spencer. “That’s Distinctive!” is meant to show that the library has something for everyone regardless of interest. If you have suggested topics for a future item feature or questions about the collections, you can leave a comment at the bottom of this page. All collections, including those highlighted on the blog, are available for members of the public to explore in the Reading Room during regular hours.

This week on That’s Distinctive! I am sharing a book from our children’s book collection. The children’s book collection was founded in 1953 and has been built largely through gifts to the library. The collection consists of over seven thousand children’s books from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries.

The book shared today, titled Tales of the Fairies, was written by Lewis Marsh and illustrated by Lilian A. Govey. Probably published in 1912, the book highlights fairy tales from various countries. Little can be found about the book online, but I stumbled upon it by searching terms for mythical creatures in the KU Libraries catalog. I chose to highlight this book over others for a couple of reasons. First, given the book’s condition, it is clear that it is quite old. Older books tend to grab my attention more because of the histories and stories they hold, both physically and metaphorically. My second reason was that the illustrations in the book are quite intriguing. The artistic style shifts from illustration to illustration, which adds variety to the book. Additionally, some illustrations are in color while others are grey and white.

Illustration of a red-haired fairy in a red dress sitting on a rock surrounded by flowers.
This image has text. Facing the title page is a color illustration of a red-haired fairy in a long white dress, calling to her three maids.
This image has the text of the table of contents.
This image has the text of the poem "Queen Mab's Song." The text is surrounded by a black-and-white sketch of small fairies dancing in groups.
This image has the text of the first page of the story "The Fairy Palace." The facing page is a color illustration of two children watching small green "fairy huntsmen" riding white horses.
Black-and-white sketch of a child opening a door to Jack Frost, a man covered in icicles.
The front cover of – and selected pages from – Tales of the Fairies, circa 1912. Call Number: Children B2740. Click image to enlarge.

Tiffany McIntosh
Public Services

Tags: , , , ,