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 “I dig old books.”
 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Fairy Tales

Related Quotes      Storytelling      Books      Daydreaming      Imagination      Inner Child

NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.   —ღ Terri, March 2021

Welcome to my page of quotations about fairy tales. Once upon a time, there was a curious young girl who became enchanted with words. She always spent up her leisure with her nose in olden books, and the dashing Prince of Literature swept her off her feet. She's still living happily ever after in the library, and bids you entrance to her magical collection. ✰tεᖇᖇ¡·g✰

Nobody is too old for fairy tales. ~Author unknown

Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. ~C.S. Lewis

Everything in creation has its appointed painter or poet and remains in bondage like the princess in the fairy tale 'til its appropriate liberator comes to set it free. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Spring blossoms are fairy tales, autumn leaves are tragic dramas. ~Mehmet Murat ildan

I fancy that at the beginning some fairy may have offered me the choice between great power and station and the privilege of living always among books, and that I, like the good child in the fairy tale, chose the latter. ~James L. Whitney, "Reminiscences of an Old Librarian," November 1909  [Whitney credits the idea for his statement to Andrew Lang's "Ballade of the Bookworm." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

People don’t like the true and simple; they like fairy tales and humbug. ~Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, Journal, 2 March 1861

It's easy to believe in magic when you're young. Anything you couldn't explain was magic then. It didn't matter if it was science or a fairy tale. Electricity and elves were both infinitely mysterious and equally possible — elves probably more so. ~Charles de Lint

The good historian is like the giant of the fairy tale. He knows that wherever he catches the scent of human flesh, there his quarry lies. ~Marc Bloch, The Historian's Craft

If you see the magic in a fairy tale, you can face the future. ~Danielle Steel

Child of the pure, unclouded brow
And dreaming eyes of wonder!...
Thy loving smile will surely hail
The love-gift of a fairy tale.
~Lewis Carroll

"Nothing can be truer than fairy wisdom," said Fred. "It is true as sunbeams; and though you cannot coin 'em into golden coin—and then count 'em and weigh 'em—they are true, true as light." ~Douglas Jerrold, "Our Honeymoon: An Apology and An Explanation," in Punch, Vol xxiv, 1853

Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace. ~Eugene O'Neill

I prefer Grimm's fairy tales to the newspapers' front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
~Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), "Possibilities," 1997, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak

You can understand and relate to most people better if you look at them — no matter how old or impressive they may be — as if they are children. For most of us never really grow up or mature all that much — we simply grow taller. O, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales. ~Leo Rosten

October, shot with flashing rays and rains,
Inhabits all his pulses; he shall know
The stress and splendor of the roaring gales,
The creaking boughs shall croon him fairy tales,
And the sea's kisses set his blood aglow,
While in his ears the eternal bugles blow.
~May Gillington Byron (1861–1936), "The Storm-Child"

Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale. ~Author unknown

Life, after all, is the most lovely of fairy tales, and I often ask myself, with heart-felt emotion, Why does God grant me so much happiness? Where all is given one cannot be proud, one can only bow the head in humility and thankfulness. ~Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875), quoted in Hans Christian Andersen: A Biography by R. Nisbet Bain, 1895, Chapter XV: "The Last Days of 'The Good Old Poet'"

I only tell fairy-tales (said the Philosopher) for I would rather be seen in their sober vestments than in the prismatic unlikelihood of reality. ~Christina Stead, "Lemonias," The Salzburg Tales, 1934

The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords. In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of a traveller who would report them. And while he is there it is dangerous for him to ask too many questions, lest the gates should be shut and the keys be lost. ~J.R.R. Tolkien, "Fairy-Stories," 1939 (lecture), 1947 (print essay)

This is not simply a story about a frog and a prince. A story about a frog would be biological. A story about a prince would be historical. But a story about a frog-prince is magical, and therein lies all the difference. ~Jane Yolen, Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie and Folklore in the Literature of Childhood, 1981

My darling child! beside my knee
She lingers, pleading low
For "just one more sweet fairy tale,
And then I'll let you go!"
~Frances S. Osgood, "The Talisman"

What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. ~G.K. Chesterton

Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. ~Neil Gaiman

I do not think man was meant to enjoy such easily attained, unmixed happiness. I have often fancied that true happiness is like the palaces in fairy tales from our childhood, where fiery dragons defend the entrance, and monsters of all shapes and kinds must be overcome ere victory is ours. ~Alexandre Dumas, père (1802–1870), Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, 1845 (Edmond Dantès)  [Note: This is my rendering of a few different translations, from the French; all had anonymous translators. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Every person's father is a dragon—and also a dragon slayer, the two eternal opposites. Only very special fathers have the ability to integrate the two sides, and only very special children can actually see that integration. Mother and stepmother, godmother and witch, hero and villain, over and over the contrapuntal dance goes on. And so the children in their turn become dragons—and dragon-slayers. ~Jane Yolen, "The Mask on the Lapel"

Far away in the land of "If and Perhaps"
The city of "Make-Believe" lies,
With its wonderful, beautiful towers and domes
And turrets that reach the skies;
'Tis peopled by fairies, pixies, and gnomes,
And nobles and ladies fair,
And the poorest gamin that walks the streets
Is a prince if he enters there...
~Cynthia M. McCague, "The City of Make-Believe," in The Outlook, 1898 March 12th

Parenthood has its brightness. For one thing you can renew your acquaintance with fairies, something you are supposed to have dropped but have discreetly hidden in a cherished corner. Now it can come out, especially at story-telling time, and enjoy seeing the child on your knee grow starry-eyed, touched by the magic and mystery of another world, where no fear, no hurt, and only a few choice grown-ups like father, may enter. ~Angelo Patri, 1924  [a little altered —tg]

Every man's life is a fairy tale written by God's fingers. ~Hans Christian Andersen

When Mother takes the Fairy Book
      And we curl up to hear,
      'T is "All aboard for Fairyland!"
      Which seems to be so near.
For soon we reach the pleasant place
      Of Once Upon a Time,
      Where birdies sing the hour o' day,
      And flowers talk in rhyme;
Where Bobby is a velvet Prince,
      And where I am a Queen;
      Where one can talk with animals,
      And walk about unseen;
Where Little People live in nuts,
      And ride on butterflies,
      And wonders kindly come to pass
      Before your very eyes...
It is the nicest time of day —
      Though Bedtime is so near, —
      When Mother takes the Fairy Book
      And we curl up to hear.
~Abbie Farwell Brown (1875–1927), "The Fairy Book," A Pocketful of Posies, 1902  ["Just before bed we travel instead to Fairy Land where strange things happen all the time..." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale. ~Marie Curie

In fairyland we avoid the word "law"; but in the land of science they are singularly fond of it.... The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in fairy books, "charm," "spell," "enchantment." They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery. ~G.K. Chesterton, "The Ethics of Elfland," Orthodoxy

Novels are to love as fairy tales to dreams. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), lecture on Don Quixote, Cervantes

Don't ask questions of fairy tales. ~Jewish folk saying

The magical story is not a microscope but a mirror, not a drop of water but a well.... It is at once lucid and opaque, it accepts both dark and light, speaks to youth and old age.... This is the stuff that dreams are made of. Not the smaller dreams that you and I have each night, rehearsals of things to come, anticipation or dread turned into murky symbols, pastiches of traumas just passed. These are the larger dreams of humankind, a patchwork of all the smaller dreams stitched together by time. ~Jane Yolen, Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie and Folklore in the Literature of Childhood, 1981

'Tis well to give honour and glory to age,
With its lessons of wisdom and truth;
Yet who would not go back to the fanciful page,
And the fairy tale read but in youth?
~Eliza Cook, "Stanzas," Melaia, and Other Poems, 1840

"Always remember," the storyteller told the wide-eyed children, "once-upon-a-time in a tale also means Now." ~Dr. SunWolf,

      You and I, perhaps, have grown out of fairy stories long ago. And I will assert that nearly every one of us grows out of it too soon. It was not our fault — it was our misfortune that elder people, who should have known better, stole the fairies from us. They knew but one world, these elders, and they had forgotten the joy of living in two.
      Many, I know, hold it harmful to keep children too long living in the realm of faëry. They say it helps to make a woolgathering habit of mind, and so in time unfits the adult for the practical work of life. All of which I firmly believe to be wrong. Never did men and women have more need of a refuge in the exercise of poetic imagination than in this bustling age; and the happiest people I know are those who keep a keen delight in poetry and the things that are only to be seen by an inner eye.
      There is a connection between the fairyland of youth and the poetry of mature years. Let a child but keep hold long enough of the gossamer thread that runs back into the realm of faëry, and in time it may join on to the world of higher poetic fancy. ~John Crawley, "The Realm of Faery," Reveries of a Father, 1924  [a little altered —tg]

O the old trundle-bed where I slept when a boy!
What canopied king might not covet the joy?...
Its snowy-white sheets, and the blankets above,
Smoothed down and tucked round with the touches of love;
The voice of my mother to lull me to sleep
With the old fairy stories my memories keep
Still fresh as the lilies that bloom o'er the head
Once bowed o'er my own in the old trundle-bed.
~James Whitcomb Riley, "The Old Trundle-Bed"

A few years ago the fairy story was regarded as peculiarly the property of young people, but this can no longer be said to be true. The subject has now become almost an exact science, and the origin of many of the stories a matter of study and inquiry as keen as the most important branches of historic doubt. So long as men like Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Andrew Lang take up the subject there will be no want of grown-up readers, and their books will continue to receive their proper position on the bookshelves of both old and young. ~"Our Note-Book," The Bookworm: An Illustrated Treasury of Old-Time Literature, 1893

Now and again some anxious, troubled soul fears that fairy tales will harm the children. Children need fairy tales because they are the purest product of the highest kind of imagination. The lovely thing about them is exactly that they are so far removed from the actual world and so close to that better, fairer one where children dwell. ~Angelo Patri, 1924

      We may assume that we are not singular in entertaining a very great tenderness for the fairy literature of our childhood. What enchanted us then, and is captivating a million of young fancies now, has, at the same blessed time of life, enchanted vast hosts of men and women who have done their long day's work, and laid their grey heads down to rest. It would be hard to estimate the amount of gentleness and mercy that has made its way among us through these slight channels. Forbearance, courtesy, consideration for the poor and aged, kind treatment of animals, the love of nature, abhorrence of tyranny and brute force — many such good things have been first nourished in the child's heart by this powerful aid. It has greatly helped to keep us, in some sense, ever young, by preserving through our worldly ways one slender track not overgrown with weeds, where we may walk with children, sharing their delights.
      In an utilitarian age, of all other times, it is a matter of grave importance that Fairy tales should be respected. Our English red tape is too magnificently red ever to be employed in the typing up of such trifles, but every one who has considered the subject knows full well that a nation without fancy, without some romance, never did, never can, never will, hold a great place under the sun. The theatre, having done its worst to destroy these admirable fictions — and having in a most exemplary manner destroyed itself, its artists, and its audiences, in that perversion of its duty — it becomes doubly important that the little books themselves, nurseries of fancy as they are, should be preserved. To preserve them in their usefulness, they must be as much preserved in their simplicity, and purity, and innocent extravagance, as if they were actual fact...
      The Vicar of Wakefield was wisest when he was tired of being always wise. The world is too much with us, early and late. Leave this precious old scape from it, alone. ~Charles Dickens, "Frauds on the Fairies," 1853  [of editing fairy tales into propaganda, infusing political content and "propagating the doctrines of Total Abstinence, Prohibition of the sale of spirituous liquors, Free Trade, and Popular Education," particularly as done by George Cruikshank —tg]

Years ago, fairy tales all began with "Once upon a time" — now we know they all begin with, "If I am elected." ~Carolyn Warner

This pretty, fanciful, fairy story, with margins appropriately illuminated with tall poppies and butterflies and fairy-rings, is dedicated to a little girl who has not forgotten how to wonder.... Such delectable characters as the Fairy Wonder and the Poppy Goblin, the Pink Elf, the Lovesome Fairies, flit thru the pages and down the poppy-stalks; there are always plenty of marvels and flocks of fairies in "The Wood-That-Is-Not-There"... the adventures of Old-fashioned Jane in her quest for the other side of the rainbow are depicted with a light touch like the brush of a thread of gossamer against the cheek as one walks thru a summer wood. ~Of The Other Side of the Rainbow by Florence Bone, 1910 (Eaton & Mains, New York), "Literature," The Independent, 1911 February 9th

When you tell your own fairy tale, you create your own magic. ~Terri Guillemets, "Once Upon a Now," 2004

We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing them becomes too high... ~Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, 2011

Life isn't a fairy tale. If you lose your shoe at midnight, you're probably just drunk. ~Author unknown

Life is not a fairy tale. If you lose your shoe at midnight, chance are you will be walking home barefoot. ~Author unknown

It's no coincidence that just at this point in our insight into our mysteriousness as human beings struggling towards compassion, we are also moving into an awakened interest in the language of myth and fairy tale. The language of logical arguments, of proofs, is the language of the limited self we know and can manipulate. But the language of parable and poetry, of storytelling, moves from the imprisoned language of the provable into the freed language of what I must, for lack of another word, continue to call faith. ~Madeleine L'Engle

At every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss. ~Paulo Coelho

The fairy tale, which to this day is the first tutor of children because it was once the first tutor of mankind, secretly lives on in the story. The first true storyteller is, and will continue to be, the teller of fairy tales. Whenever good counsel was at a premium, the fairy tale had it, and where the need was greatest, its aid was nearest. This need was created by myth. The fairy tale tells us of the earliest arrangements that mankind made to shake off the nightmare which myth had placed upon its chest. ~Walter Benjamin

Religions are the great fairy tales of conscience. ~George Santayana

When we walk, holding stories in us, do they touch the ground through our footprints? What is this power of metaphor, by which we liken a thing we see to a thing we imagine or have seen before — the granite crag to an old crystalline heart — changing its form, allowing animation to suffuse the world via inference? Metaphor, perhaps, is the tame, the civilised, version of shamanic shapeshifting, word-magic, the recognition of stories as toothed messengers from the wilds. What if we turned the old nursery rhymes and fairytales we all know into feral creatures once again, set them loose in new lands to root through the acorn fall of oak trees? What else is there to do, if we want to keep any of the wildness of the world, and of ourselves? ~Sylvia Linsteadt, "Turning Our Fairytales Feral Again"

Don't worry about falling in love because in fairy tales, they don't find each other until the last page. ~Author unknown

"Happily ever after" depends on where we choose to end the story. ~Author unknown

[T]here is no true end to any fairy-tale... ~J.R.R. Tolkien, "Fairy-Stories," 1939 (lecture), 1947 (print essay)

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