An undeniably progressive literary period, the nineteenth century heralded the emergence of a new model of fairy tale in Britain; unlike the oral folk-tales that preceded them, and the decidedly adult-themed stories of Perrault and the original edition of the Brothers Grimm’s collection, Victorian authors introduced the fairy tale into the nursery and applied it to the moral education of children as well as adults. The majority of Victorian fairy tales were written for the middle-class readership of both children and adults, intended to mould and reinforce the morals of the former, while challenging and reconstructing the attitudes of the latter. In many cases, the Victorian literary fairy tale engaged with and encouraged social reform, responding to the changes which were instigated on a national scale by both the era of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution of 1830-90.

The Robinson Library’s Special Collections is a unique and diverse resource which supports academic research and teaching. There are over 100 collections of material which range in scope from rare books and archives to woodblocks and illustrations. The collections span in date from the mid 15th century to the 21st century, however the majority date from the 18th to 20th century. With an archive of fairy tale texts that spans the 19th century and beyond, the Robinson Library Special Collections allow us a privileged insight into this dynamic, subversive and innovative literary period. I invite you all to engage with and add to this resource, celebrating a body of work of which I am merely able to scratch the surface.


  • Total texts in database:60
  • Total images in database:969
  • Total media in database:20