‘A Rehearsal in Fairyland’. 1870. Pictorial frontispiece. Coloured wood engraving by Edmund Evans. 8 x 12 inches. The caption to this image reads, ‘Musical elf teaching the young birds to sing’. Doyle invokes the uber-cute, combining an infant elf with anthropomorphized birds, a visual lexicon that anticipates the art of Walt Disney. He further immerses the viewer in the moment of contemplation by adopting a worm’s eye perspective in which ferns and grasses are endowed with the scale of trees, and we are compelled to see fairyland on the same level as its inhabitants. Animated by the strategic placing of reds, the flock of singing birds is bright and cheerful, the emotional register of the nursery. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Photograph and text by Simon Cooke. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.


Doyle, Richard, and William Allingham. In Fairyland. London: Green and Co., 1870 [1869].

Created 10 September 2021