I am sure no one needs to be introduced to Cicely Mary Barker, perhaps the most popular fairy illustrator of our time, best known for her Flower Fairy series. Before I started researching fairy illustrators, she was the only one I knew of by name.
Her wild rose fairy is my absolute favorite, because the wild prairie rose is always in bloom in North Dakota on my birthday. I am sharing some of my other CMB favorites as well.
THE HELIOTROPE FAIRY
You may have known about Cicely Mary Barker, and that she was English, but did you know that she suffered from epilepsy as a child, and was in frail health all of her life? When she was 15, her father, also an artist, submitted some of her work to the famed postcard maker, Raphael Tuck of London. From then on, she sold her work to magazines, postcard and greeting card makers and, later, book publishers.
Her father died when she was only 17, and the income from selling her illustrations was a godsend in supporting her family. She was paid only 24 pounds for her first book, "Flower Fairies of the Spring", published in 1923.
Wikipedia has this to say about her "Flower Fairies of the Spring": "(It) was well received by a post-industrial, war-weary public who were charmed by her vision of hope and innocence which seemed to evoke a less-aggressive modern world."
Perhaps that's why she appeals to us still.
Barker was greatly influenced by artist Kate Greenaway, but her primary influence was the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of painters. She always used live models - children of friends and family - and her flowers were botanically accurate.
You may be familiar with "Fairyopolis" the charming fairy book from 2006. Did you know there is a sequel? I happened upon "Return to Fairyopolis" at the bookstore yesterday. Since it was on sale, I scooped up two copies.
In honor of Fairy Month, the Summer Solstice, Midsummer's Day, my birthday, and Cicely Mary Barker (also born in June, on the 28th), I am holding a drawing for one copy of "Return to Fairyopolis", which heavily features Barker's fairies. Anyone who comments on this post will be in the drawing. I will draw a name June 30th.
P. S. Happy belated Summer Solstice. I was going to write a solstice post last evening, but decided to just celebrate it in my own small way by being outside and enjoying a beautiful long summer evening (it stayed light until past 10:00 p.m.). "What is so rare as a day in June, when, if ever, are perfect days?"