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The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Fairies

By Anna Franklin

Illustrated by Paul Mason & Helen Field

The story of this book is an object lesson for aspiring writers and artists on the perils and pitfalls of the publishing industry.

It was first accepted for publication by Cassel, an Orion imprint, after a very friendly meeting with the commissioning editor.  Then suddenly, without warning, the whole Cassel imprint was abolished, so the whole thing fell through.

However, the friendly editor moved to Vega, a Chrysalis Books imprint, and suggested the book to them. The book was duly published, and came out in hardback and paperback. But within a couple of months of publication, Chrysalis sold off their entire book division and the book became the property of Paper Tiger. They sold briefly at massively high discounts to clear the stock (from which we earned about a penny a copy), and then it was out of print having barely been born, and five years of work for the writer and artists left us with only a couple of hundred quid to show for it, despite thousands of copies sold.

To rub salt into the wounds, there was fancy-bound edition, for which we were never paid and received no copies of, and a Japanese edition, for which we never got any money either.  A lot of people made money from our creative endeavours, but we were not among them.

Our experiences are not uncommon.

Nearly 3000 separate entries in alphabetical order, ranging from the South African fairies Abtawa to the German dwarves Zwerge, make this book ten times as comprehensive as any other dictionary or encyclopedia of fairy names available. Unlike, say, British Goblins (Wirt Skie) and Fairies in Lore & Literature (Katherine Briggs) this book is fully international and covers all mythologies and folklore of the worlds cultural groups. The wealth of illustration adds to its justifiable claims of being THE book on the subject. A full bibliographical section also aids the reader to search and discover more on selected areas of interest within the subject.


“I love this book. I really can't understand why anyone would buy an encyclopedia and then expect all the pictures to just be pretty pretty. These are MUCH more fun. Some are pretty and dainty, others are so funny I just burst out laughing. Davy Jones [the one with the locker at the bottom of the sea] was one. And then there are little drawings on just about every page. Before reading [some] of this very full book I hadn't realised just how many fairies there are in the world. Now I can understand why folks in bygone ages seemed scared of fairies. Some of them are just not very nice - but then there are others that bring so much goodness along with them. My problem is that I love looking at all the pictures and yet I'd like to be able to hand it down to my children when the time comes. Maybe I need ot buy two.”

Amazon review

I have been looking for a book like this for years: scholarly, readable, exhaustive and fun. Ms Franklin gives us details and histories of fairies from around the world, from the well known to creatures I have certainly never heard of. But beware, if you are looking for fairy-tale bowdlerised Victorian versions of fairies, for these are the real thing. In the past people were in awe of fairies and often feared them. It was well known that some were beautiful and seductive, while others were ugly and frightening (very few had wings and none looked like Tinkerbell), and they are all portrayed here. The illustrations by Helen Field are cute and for the most part pretty, while Paul Mason explores both sides of the appearance of fairies, from the gorgeous to the monstrous. This book is not for those who simply want fluffy bunny children's fairy-tales, but for the real student of real fairies and real fairy lore. It is simply the most comprehensive and most accurate book on the market for anyone who has a genuine interest in fairies, rather than Victorian 'fairy' tales.”

Amazon reviews

As soon as I looked at the cover I just knew I would like this book and I wasn't disappointed. There is just so much to read and the pictures.... they are just amazing!!! Some pretty, some really made me laugh and others a bit scary. I don't know how the artists managed to make everything look so real.

I really never realised there was so much to know about fairies. Each day I open the book at a new page and just read. Some words we take for granted like nightmare now have a very different meaning to me. When I have read every page, I will probably go back to the begining again and again.”

Amazon reviews

ISBN 978-1843336242

28.1 x 20.7 x 2.6 cm, 288 pages

Published by Vega Books, 2002


Words in capital letters refer the reader to other entries in the encyclopaedia.

ABAPANSI or Amatongo are spirits of the Amazulu tribe of Africa. They share many characteristics of their Celtic cousins- they are the spirits of the DEAD and often appear as FETCHES to lead people into the OTHERWORLD. They can be seen by WITCHES.

ABARTA ['Performer of Feats'] is a trickster of the Irish fairies, the TUATHA DÉ DANAAN. He captured some of the Fianna heroes and took them to the OTHERWORLD.

ABATWA are tiny South African fairies that live peacefully with the ants in anthills, but who are very shy, only occasionally revealing themselves to wizards, young children and pregnant women. If a woman in the seventh month of her pregnancy should see one, she will have a boy child. Compare with MURYAN.

ABHAC [‘River’] or Abac is an Irish DWARF or WATER FAIRY cognate with the Welsh AFRANC.

ABHEAN is the harper of the TUATHA DÉ DANAAN.

ABIKU is a forest spirit known to the African Dahomean tribe. It seeks to steal human children. To prevent this, children are ritually scarred or dressed in the CLOTHES of the opposite sex, which fools the spirits, or they are given protective IRON bracelets. The Yoruba of West Africa view the Abiku as an evil DEMON that eats or tries to possess children. It has no stomach and is therefore always hungry.

ABRUZZO MAZZAMARELLE is an Italian wind fairy, one of the FOLLETTO, about two-feet tall and wearing a fancy silk hat covered with flowers. He also appears as a grasshopper.

ABUNDIA or Habundia or Wandering Dame Abonde is Queen of the Normandy fairies, the FÉE, or some say queen of the Normandy WHITE LADIES. She appears as a lovely woman with dark hair wearing a circlet with a star on her forehead. She was mentioned in documents of the Middle Ages as a Fairy Queen and as an Italian WITCH goddess with a following of female dancers.

ACHACILA are Bolivian WEATHER FAIRIES who live underground and control the hail, rain and frost. They occasionally appear to humans as little old men.

ACHERI is an Indian spirit, said to be the GHOST of a little girl, who brings disease in her shadow. She lives in the mountains and her singing is an OMEN OF DEATH and sickness. A protection against her attentions is to wear a RED THREAD about the neck.

ACORN LADY is an English who fairy appears as a DWARF woman dressed in peasant clothing. She loves nuts and will punish anyone who takes acorns from her tree with bloating and cramps. She hates lazy humans and will pinch them.



It looks like the Encyclopaedia has found a new publisher. I’ll keep you posted if and when it becomes available again.