UCB Libraries

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Fairy Tale Collection



Consists of books of fairy tales from the seventeenth century to the present.


Mostly cataloged.


Over 100 titles.


Via Chinook, the bibliography of the Creamer Collection of Children's Books, the bibliography of the Donald Beaty Bloch Children's Literature Collection (currently undergoing cataloging), this bibliography created to accompany a past display, and the department card catalog.


Searches can be limited to Special Collections materials in the advanced search in Chinook by selecting "Special Collections" in the "Location" drop-down box.


The Fairy Tales Collection includes books donated by Emily Wood Epsteen, Donald Beaty Bloch, George L. Creamer, other donors, and department purchases.

Fairy Tales at CU-Boulder

Landscape and Geography in Fairy Tales


An exhibit from the Jerry Crail Johnson Earth Sciences and Map Library “Landscape/Geography in Literature” series was reprised in the east entrance lobby of Norlin Library through November 25, 2012. It featured maps and images evoking aspects of fairy tales, excerpts from traditional fairy tales as well as tales by modern authors, and poetic responses to fairy tale themes.

Although geography often plays a key role in fairy tales, these tales are rarely set in specific, recognizable geographic places. There are, however, recurring geospatial themes across the fairy tale tradition, some of which are highlighted in this exhibit: a bird (often a swallow) migrating from a cold northern country to a warm southern country (in the case of Oscar Wilde's tale, the country is Egypt); the "underground," as in mines and caverns, appears in stories such as Snow White and Rose Red, who tussle with an evil dwarf in a cave, or Thumbelina, who is coerced into marrying a mole and living her life in the dark (but narrowly escapes on the back of a bird who flies her south to sunny lands); and a tower in which a maiden is imprisoned, isolated in a barren landscape.

In addition to traditional tales, this exhibit features a few modern authors’ takes on the fairy tale genre. E.E. Cummings' fairy tales, originally written for his daughter Nancy, depict fanciful, delightful settings. Their qualities include tip-tops of hills, long curving roads, "the farthest star," and the "green, green world." Oscar Wilde's fairy tales were likewise based on stories he told his own children, although Wilde's tales are darker and often heartbreaking.

Two of the tales in this exhibit reference real places. One is Faldum Alp, the setting of a Herman Hesse tale, which is located in Switzerland. The other is Piazza Del Granduca in Florence, Italy, the setting for Hans Christian Andersen's tale "The Bronze Pig." Today the plaza is called Piazza della Signoria, but the bronze pig that inspired the story still remains.  In addition, there is a map of Shöneberg from a Baedeker's travel guide of 1870 that shows the final resting place of the Brothers Grimm.

Also featured in this exhibit are two works of art that imagine geographic settings for familiar stories. Bernard Sleigh's Ancient Mappe of FairyLand, and Land of Many Tales by Alison Murray Whittington (Chief Mapmaker of The Interimaginational Institute for Fantastical Exploration & Cartography) assemble characters and features of fairy tales into new realms.



Collection Spotlight: Fairy Tales at the University of Colorado, Boulder


Find out more about how Special Collections' holdings of fairy tale books enhance university classes in this article.



Once Upon A Time: Early and Illustrated Fairy Tales


This exhibit, created in honor of Professor Emeritus Jacques Barchilon, founder of the scholarly journal Merveilles & Contes (later Marvels and Tales), featured highlights of the department's collection. The associated webpage provides the captions from the display.



Blogging Once Upon A Time


An interactive blog created to accompany the 2009 exhibit, with resources and discussion areas, available here.



Once Upon a Time: Spreading the Magic of Fairytales throughout Colorado


In Fall 2010, University of Colorado faculty explored the library's unique collection of rare European and American fairytales. Watch recordings of their talks here.



Fairy Tales in the CU Digital Library


We are in the process of digitizing selected fairy tale books. See them in the Digital Library here. (Please note that you must disable your pop-up blocker to view the contents of the Digital Library.) They are in the "CU and Auraria Collections" section of the "Choose a Collection" drop-down box, under the title "Once Upon a Time: Early and Illustrated Fairy Tales."