More Fairies: Shakespeare

My choice of Shakespeare today is in honour of the Trinity Dublin Shakespeare Festival which is being held this week from 3-8 June. I have been to a couple of events so far and hope do more by the end of the week. My original plan for today was to select a sonnet, but I decided to pursue the theme of summer instead. Here, therefore is a short magical snatch from the action in

A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

Act II (Scene I)  – A wood near Athens     

Puck and the fairy by a tree

Puck and the fairy



Enter from opposite sides, a fairy and Puck

PuckHow now, spirit, whither wander you?  

FairyOver hill, over dale
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
 Swifter than the moony sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see,
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours;
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I’ll be gone:
Our queen and all her elves come here anon.

I have had this illustrated edition for many years but sadly can’t remember where it came from, other than that I think it was probably from a book fair in the Birmingham area. That would put it around fifteen or more years ago, which is a scary thought.

The illustrations are all by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) and the text was written by calligrapher Graily Hewitt (1864-1952). The work was originally done in 1929 at the invitation of the Spencer Collection (New York Public Library)  This particular edition was published in 1977 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd and reproduced from the 1929 manuscript. I love Arthur Rackham’s work and maybe one day I might get to see his original drawings and watercolours. There is an Arthur Rackham Society if you want to discover more information about his work.

I hadn’t heard of Graily Hewitt before I owned this book but I have discovered that the Victoria and Albert Museum have holdings of his work. He was a very important figure in the world of calligraphy and typography and wrote The Pen and Type Design (1928) and Lettering (1930). The latter was last re-printed by Dover Publications in 1993 though it looks as if it is out of print now. This reminds me that Dover are a brilliant publisher for classic reprints and that perhaps I should do a post on their work sometime.

Apologies if the images don’t look as good as they might. I had problems scanning due to the size of the book.

Almost a week of poetry and poets so far….let me know your favourites so far!

Titania's fairies

Front of jacket



2 comments on “More Fairies: Shakespeare

  1. […] did mention yesterday that I was thinking of choosing one of Shakespeare’s sonnet’s before opting for some […]


  2. […] related poem for a while at least (honest). It does however, not only tie in with the themes of enchantment on recent days, but also because Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) inherited the mantle of […]


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