‘An Intruder’. 1870. A vignette on Plate 12. Coloured wood engraving by Edmund Evans. 3½ x 6 inches. Doyle’s picture-book primarily consists of the sentimental and fey, with diminutive fairies and elves engaged in childish mischief. At the same time, his imagery has a series of subtexts which symbolize social behaviour in the ‘real’ world, sexuality and the workings of violence. This design epitomizes Doyle’s disconcerting capacity to combine the cute and the threatening, as a tiny figure, a vulnerable as a baby, is surrounded by birds which to him are monsters equipped with sharp bills: is this a nursery book, or an adult nightmare? A Freudian interpretation might be applied to the work, and it is certainly far more than an entertainment for the very young. Like many artists and writers working for children, Doyle encodes his text with adult understandings of the cruelties of life, its frustrations, and its absurdities. [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