When you take a moment to look at the fairies listed as part of Queen Titania's entourage in A Midsummer Night's Dream, one can guess at the ancestry of the Flower Fairies: Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Mote, and Mustardseed are nothing if not Flower Fairy names!
But the Flower Fairies as we know and love them today really got their chance at literary life under the illustrative pen of Cecily Mary Barker.
This lovely young woman suffered from epilepsy which prevented her from going to school. So she schooled at home and spent a great deal of her time studying art, especially the art of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Fairies were a popular theme in Victorian society. Queen Mary (who owned the most MAGNIFICENT doll house EVER) was particularly interested in all things fairy. And she was a tremendous fan of Cecily Mary Barker's work!
Ms. Barker was a devout Anglican . . . which pleases me since my husband was raised Anglican, and we attend and Anglican church. She illustrated Bible stories and hymn books for children, but her most famous work will always be her Flower Fairies.
These childlike little imps, while completely magical, have a very natural air in their garden settings. According to Ms. Barker's stories, every time a seed drops, a Flower Fairy is born.
This baby grows along with the flower and tends it, watering it and chasing away pests. While having other adventures along the way, of course!
Cecily Mary Barker's beautiful fairies have inspired many variations since. My first encounter with Flower Fairies came from the picture book The RunawayFairy by Molly Brett, who was heavily inspired by Ms. Barker's works.
I even tried disguising myself as one of their kind . . .
never with any luck, alas!
These days, my love of Flower Fairies continues strong. I have a lovely collection of Cecily Mary Barker fairy Christmas ornaments that decorate my tree every year:
I also have an extensive collection of fairy figurines and pictures from my childhood, saved up and tucked away in the attic. For someday, if God blesses me with a baby girl, she might just like Flower Fairies too . . .
So what about you? What Flower Fairies have you encountered?