The Fairy Flute by Rose Fyleman (1921)

This week’s Random Book of the Week is a 1920s poetry collection for children, all about the little fairies that might live at the bottom of our gardens.

Through writing about the ‘fairy folk’ for children, Rose Fyleman became one of the most successful children’s writers of her generation. This collection (there were others, including the rather Dickensian-sounding ‘Fairies and Chimneys‘) creates a whole world for fairies, telling us that ‘fairies learn to dance before they learn to walk/fairies learn to sing before they learn to talk’, how ‘every fairy has a star/where all her tiny treasures are’, that ‘some days are fairy days. The minute you wake/you have a magic feeling that you never could mistake’, and, most importantly, that ‘if you meet a fairy/don’t run away/she won’t want to hurt you/she’ll only want to play’.

The opening poem, ‘Consolation’ is my favourite:

You may be very ugly and freckledy and small

And have a little stubby nose that’s not a nose at all;

You may be bad at spelling and you may be worse at sums,

You may have stupid fingers that your Nanna says are thumbs,

And lots of things you look for you may never, never find,

But if you love the fairies –  you don’t mind.

You may be rather frightened when you read of wolves and bears

Or when you pass the cupboard-place beneath the attic stairs;

You may not always like it when thunder makes a noise

That seems so much, much bigger than little girls and boys;

You may feel rather lonely when you waken in the night,

But if the fairies love you – it’s all right.

My mum and I like to half-pretend we believe in fairies, a hangover perhaps from the Flower Fairies revival that dominated my 1980s childhood. So, we both squealed with excitement when we kept finding fairies in the undergrowth whilst clearing the garden of mine and Jason’s new home over the summer. Granted, these were of the plastic variety, but there was still something magical about finding them. Naturally, I gave them names (see below). Look out for the fairies!

Mavis likes a cuddle and watching Crimewatch. ‘It’s great when they catch the buggers,’ she says.
Doris just flashes her pants and likes a bit of bingo on a Sunday. ‘Y.O.L.O.,’ she says.
Phyllis hopes to be the Kim Kardashian of the fairy world. Here she is posing for a fairy selfie.
Clovis is just awfully confused, which may be because of the shedload of poppers she took in the 80s when the Flower Fairies made a comeback and everybody wanted to be her friend and the attention was overwhelming for someone living in a back garden in Bromley.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Fairies on poppers – I need a sit down to recover from that one! (I also had a 1980s childhood and a Flower Fairies poster 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh I’m jealous! I only had the books!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. bookheathen says:

    I do like your pictures. One of the members of my writers’ group is writing a novel about a woman who has “fairies” in her cottage garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow! That sounds great. Yes, the garden looked especially lovely the day I took these pictures, with the autumnal leaves and sun.


  3. Your pictures are HILARIOUS! I think Doris and Mavis are my favorites. Sounds like an interesting book of poetry, very whimsical. Do you know the song Thank You For The Music by ABBA? It has the lyrics “Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk/
    She says I began to sing long before I could talk”. I wonder if they stole it from The Fairy Flute?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that is very interesting! I wonder?

      Liked by 1 person

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