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Andrew Lang


Andrew Lang (1844-1912), Scottish historian, translator, journalist, lecturer, biographer, anthropologist, poet, and author. An avid folklorist, Lang's Fairy Book series contain dozens of fairy tales, myths, fables, legends, and nursery rhymes including "Little Red Riding Hood", "Story of Wali Dad the Simple-Hearted", "The Story of Three Bears", "The Goblin Pony", "The Story of a Very Bad Boy", "The Groac'h of the Isle of Lok", "The Ugly Duckling", "The Snow Queen", "The Norka", "Rapunzel", "Schippeitaro", and "The Emperor's New Clothes". Lang often collaborated with his wife Leonore Blanche Alleyne in adapting and translating the stories, originating from numerous countries including Africa, China, The Netherlands, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lapland, North America, Norway, Romania, Russia, and Scotland.

Lang was also a prolific author of works both fiction and non-; he wrote his own fairy tales such as Prince Prigio (1889) and Prince Ricardo of Pantouflia (1893), and wrote numerous historical texts including A Short History of Scotland (1911). His collected works include essays on religion, myths, the noble savage, and magic under such titles as Custom and Myth (1884), Myth, Ritual, and Religion (1886), and The Making of Religion (1900). Andrew Lang was great friends with Robert Louis Stevenson and H. Rider Haggard, with whom he wrote The World's Desire (1890). Preferring romance over realism, he admired their works as well as those of Alexandre Dumas Père, Henry Fielding, William Makepeace Thackeray, fellow Scot Robert Burns and many others.

Andrew Lang was born in Selkirk, Scotland on 31 March 1844, eldest son of Jane Plenderleath Sellar and John Lang. Young Andrew's education started at the Selkirk Grammar School; he then went on to attend Edinburgh Academy. He next attended University of St. Andrews, which now hosts the Andrew Lang Lecture series in his honour. Lang then went to Balliol College, Oxford, England. His Oxford: Brief Historical and Descriptive Notes was published in 1880. He was Fellow of Merton College from 1865 to 1874. Lang studied Latin and Greek, especially the Homeric texts, and began translations from the French the poetry of François Villon, Pierre de Ronsard, and others. Lang was also writing his own poetry, Ballads and Lyrics of Old France (1872) his first publication. Other poetry collections include Ballads in Blue China (1880), Helen of Troy (1882), Rhymes à la Mode (1884), Grass of Parnassus (1888), Ban and Arriere Ban (1894), and New Collected Rhymes (1905).

Lang's childhood days in the Scottish Borderland of Selkirk, the land and history of William Wallace and Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Highlanders, his jaunts through heath and wood, fishing in the local streams, and reading such books as Grimm's Fairy Tales and the works of William Shakespeare, Madame d'Aulnoy, and Sir Walter Scott inspired his love of folklore, magic, and myth. Lang moved to London in 1875 to try his hand at journalism, the same year he married Leonore Blanche Alleyne. They would have no children. While Lang was editor of and wrote a popular column for Longman's Magazine, he continued his prodigious output, with dozens of articles and essays published in newspapers and magazines including Cornhill Magazine, Macmillan's, The Daily Post, Fortnightly Review, the Overland Mail, Fraser's and Time magazine. His dry wit and sardonic style earned him much acclaim. He was an avid golfer and fisherman and he and Leonore travelled to France and Italy.

Many honours were bestowed on Lang during his lifetime including Doctorates in Classics from the University of St. Andrews and Oxford, in 1885 and 1904 respectively. He was Gilford lecturer at St. Andrews in 1888. In 1911 he was voted President of the Psychical Research Society. After many years of ill-health, Andrew Lang died on 20 July 1912 in Aberdeen, Scotland. He now rests in the cathedral precincts of St. Andrews.

The Fairy Book series titles:

The Blue Fairy Book (1889),
The Red Fairy Book (1890),
The Green Fairy Book (1892),
The Yellow Fairy Book (1894),
The Pink Fairy Book (1897),
The Grey Fairy Book (1900),
The Violet Fairy Book (1901),
The Crimson Fairy Book (1903),
The Brown Fairy Book (1904),
The Orange Fairy Book (1906),
The Olive Fairy Book (1907), and
The Lilac Fairy Book (1910).

Other works by Lang include;

The Mark Of Cain (novel, 1886),
Books and Bookmen (1886),
Letters to Dead Authors (1886),
Letters on Literature (1889),
Lost Leaders (1889),
Essays in Little (1891),
Cock Lane and Common-Sense (1894),
A Monk of Fife (novel, 1896),
Pickle the Spy (1897),
Alfred Tennyson (biography, 1901),
The Mystery of Mary Stuart (1901),
The Disentanglers (novel, 1903),
The Valet's Tragedy and Other Stories (1903),
Historical Mysteries (1905),
John Knox and the Reformation (1905),
Sir Walter Scott and the Border Minstrelsy (1910),
Tales of Troy: Ulysses the Sacker of Cities (1912),
Shakespeare, Bacon and the Great Unknown (1912), and post-humously,
Highways and Byways of the Border (1913).

Biography written by C. D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc. 2007. All Rights Reserved.

The above biography is copyrighted. Do not republish it without permission.

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