Brian Froud & Ari Berk, |
Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Letters
(Harry N. Abrams, 2005)
As a young girl Lady Angelica Cottington (1888-1991) was encouraged to take part in collections of oddities, as was a pastime of most members of her family. Lady Angelica collected fairies. She pressed them between pieces of paper, flattened beneath the heavy weight of various books, just like many people press leaves and flowers. She also wrote letters to many distinguished members of society asking them about their various views on the fairy folk and collected those responses as well.
The personal letters of the late Lady Angelica have recently been purchased at an auction in New York and have been returned to the Cottington Archive, located at the Cottington Manor proper in the moorlands of Bovey, Devon.
Brian Froud, fairy authority and artist, and Ari Berk, curator and associate professor of literature and speculative lore, Central Michigan University, are both now on the Cottington Board. They have made and organized this collection for the public in the hopes that it will ease the curiosity and decrease the visits to the Cottington Manor.
Lady Cottington was one warped individual and as a result, this book -- a sequel of sorts to the notorious Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book -- is very fun to read. The fairies she chose to squish onto the paper are all fabulous in their splatters. Some of the images are sticking their tongues, or bums, out to the reader, others have a look of shock, and I giggled on every page. Lady Cottington is a little sarcastic and witty, and I would suspect she might have had some fairy blood herself as she also seems very much mischievous.
The letters she collected are from public figures and celebrities you would expect to have some insight on the fairy and spiritual realms. This book contains letters from William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, J.M. Barrie, W.B. Yeats, Queen Victoria and many more. Each correspondence is completely unique, some are annoyed, some are admiring, some are humorous and some serious.
The book is designed so that with each turn of the page, the reader is treated to a new experience, completely different from the page previously viewed. For example, Oscar Wilde wrote his letter to Lady Cottington on the inside cover of a French menu, and the menu has been pasted to the page. Queen Victoria sent her correspondence in the usual way, and the envelope has been pasted to the page; you open the flap and pull out the letter to read, and included is a separate photograph that the queen herself took, capturing a spirit or a fairy in the woods.
I have wanted this book for a long time, and after receiving it from a friend recently I have read and reread it. It is a different and sarcastic look at the fairy and spiritual realms and the results are charming and imaginative, hilarious and a little twisted. I loved every page!
3 October 2009
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