Saturday, June 21, 2008



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.

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?"


Naturegirl said...

Julie I am very familiar with Cecily M. Barker and her flower fairies!
I also have the enchanting book ~fairyopolis~ which I adore..the child in me holds onto every word and illustration! I would LoVe to win a copy of "Return to Fairyopolis"!!
Should I not I will surely buy myself a copy!
What a special way for you to celebrate your upcoming birthdaY!
Today I'm serving up peonies and I know that Ms. Barker would approve!
Enjoy your weekend. hugs anna

Shopgirl said...

I love what you are teaching me. I have not been into fairies so all of this is new to me. I will of course search out some of her art. The pictures are beautiful. My birthday is in July, is yours?
Spreading wings, Mary

Shopgirl said...

I am a July 12th girl.
In case I have brain damage on your Birthday, Happy Birthday Friend. Let her eat cake!
Your, Mary

Mary said...

Hi Julie - I'm catching up, life has been rather busy! Loved reading about Cicely - have all the Flower Fairies books - Jasmin and I often read them together and can never decide just which is our favorite - they all are!!!

Hope all is well dear and that you will have many lovely June days.
Hugs - Mary.

Leanne said...

I too know CMB well, and I have some books/prints here, I would love to be entered for the draw too, thank you Julie!

Our solstice here was grey, rainy and not at all midsummery, sigh!! I am glad you had a lovely solstice evening in ND!!

Leanen x

Colleen - the AmAzINg Mrs. B said...

Well, my initials are CMB so that must be a sign! One of our garden centers had a "fairy night" on the solstice and all the little girls dressed up in their most precious fairy dresses and wings and went to the center...they even has a sign on the street directing one to "Fairy Parking" in the back! Now, who was it that said fairies don't exist????
Colleen (the OTHER CMB)

smilnsigh said...

Oh yes, such precious illustrations. :-)

And I am glad to report ~~ drum roll please ~~ that soon now, "Magus Of Stonewylde Book One" will be in my hands!

Tried to order it at a local book store. Did so. {I figured that if I had to get one new, might as well order it locally, and save the shipping} Been waiting and waiting. Called. The publisher or whomever, has not contacted them back. So off I toddled to amazon again. And now was able to get a good used copy, with 1 Click. :-)

Soooo, soooooon.... It will be in my hands. I have been waiting so long it seems. Ding-dang local library system did not have it. I always check library system first.

Hmmmm, I suppose I should have check library again. Maybe they had it now. Well, I will do that, for the 2nd book. :-)

Just finished a light summer read called "The Greeengage Summer." I was published in 1958, so it's one of those delightfully 'old' looking/feeling books. ,-)

'Smilnsigh' blog

Anonymous said...

Oh! I have some of these delightful fairies framed and on my walls, in fabric in my sewing room (still deciding how best to use them), and had no idea of the two recent books you mentioned were in existence. Thank you!

I linked to your site from a friend's site one day not long ago and have read "happily ever after"!

An early or late Happy Birthday to you! Mine is an April birthday.

Cheers! Barbara

Lila Rostenberg said...

Great summer solstice weekend here! Glad you stayed up to celebrate it! I'm off to read more about the two books you mentioned!
Happy birthdayy this week!!!

kathyann said...

Happy belated Summer Solstice to you Julie!
I love your pictures,so beautiful,I just love faerie pictures!Hope thing are better for you and you have a great Birthday!
Love from Kathy and the girls

Joyce said...

Well, I must confess I have never heard of Cecily M. Barker!
Nor do I think I have seen her books. I will have to take a look next time I am at Books-A-Million if I remember....I DO love bios though so I enjoyed reading about her via your post...
June is a very busy month for you holiday wise isn't it? I'm a July girl myself. :~)

Anonymous said...

Such a lovely post. I love Cicely M. Barker too. I had an address book of her when I was a little girl. Nowadays I have coffeecups with her flower fairies on it ; )
Sounds like you had a great Mid Summers day. I pottered around in the garden too that day. It was a perfect day.

LW said...

I have enjoyed all of your fairy posts….
I will be celebrating tomorrow, just wish
I did not have so much on my plate already…
I had such big plans for this day, but will have to
settle for something small

Hope you have a wonderful Birthday….


Annie Jeffries said...

I was loving this post and then, HECK, you had to offer up a drawing. Hold up your hat, dear friend. My name is flying in. Hugs, Annie

couragetocreatewriteandlove said...

yes for Cecily Mary Barker and you!!! yes you TWO birthday girls!
Counting the days for your birthday....

AutumnZ said...

My daughter loves Fairyopolis. She has that one, Dragonology and Wizardology. My son has Pirateology and Egyptology.

Miss Robyn said...

oh I would love, love, love to win this! I don't have the first book.. I know I must buy it...
please, please faeries pick me!
(hanging my head in shame for wanting so much)

there is a special post in the Enchanted forest for you!!

Janet said...

I love Cecily Mary Barker and her fairy paintings. I have a print of The Hawthorn Fairy. Her work is so delicate and beautiful.

Kelli said...

What a sweet fairy post, Julie! I would love to be entered into your giveaway!

Unknown said...

I plead my ignorance in that I have admired these fairy pictures throughout my life and I have never known who the artist was. Silly me. But, that's why I come here, right? To be enlightened...

Please include me in this whimsical and generous Birthday celebration. I would love to have a copy of this book.

Did you know that my daughter's Birthday is tomorrow as well? She will be 21. I may have told you this, but I call it the perfect Birthday because it is exactly 6 months from Christmas.


Hugs, KJ

Kim Campbell said...

I love that book!

Laurie said...

My favorite is the Wild Rose Fairy ~ of course! I have found at a yard sale several of the little fairy books of Barker's ~ they are wonderful! I wish I knew about them when I was a little girl, but better late than never! Besides, I will never outgrow my belief in faeries!

Carole Burant said...

She is one of my all time favourite artists as well...I have many pictures of her faeries and all are so beautiful.

Oh Julie, leave it to you to celebrate your birthday by giving away a wonderful book!!! Your generous heart knows no bounds:-) Please enter my name into your draw, I would so love to be able to read this book!!

Take care of YOU! xoxo

Lena said...

Oh gosh...I didn't know there was a sequel to that beautiful book. I only just bought a copy of Fairyopolis this spring, and I love it. I would surely appreciate being entered in your drawing Julie. Thank you.