The True Book Story.

By Andrew Lang

Printed: 1910

Publisher: Longmans Green & Co. London

Dimensions 13 × 19 × 3 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 13 x 19 x 3

Condition: Very good  (See explanation of ratings)

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Item information


Navy cloth binding with gilt title on the spine. Gilt ship and man on the front board. All edges gilt.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

              A nice clean copy

US Review: You could say that the works of Andrew Lang make for the perfect collector’s items, as he produced a long run of one particular series, all bound with interesting and varied covers, and stretching over at least twenty years. I am talking, of course, of his life’s work The Fairy Books. Starting with the first book in he series known as The Blue Fairy Book – originally called so because of its striking ultramarine cover, with gold leaf design in the illustration.

What followed from there was a run of ‘color’ fairy books such as The Red Fairy Book, Green, Lilac, Pink, Grey, and so on stretching from 1889 to 1910, and numbering twelve copies. They remain a pillar in the mythographic and folkloric communities, forming an important part of the Classical Revival of the turn of the nineteenth century (with such works as the Rubayiit of Omar Khayam, 1001 Arabian Nights being translated for the first time, and adding to the swell of interest in world religions, spiritual traditions and myths). Andrew Lang indeed, was a fundamental figure to that western ‘discovery’ of Near-Eastern and Eastern world heritage; himself an anthropologist and founding fellow of the Psychical Research Society. The fact is, is Andrew Lang’s works on folklore are only the tip of the iceberg compared to his output as a man of letters. He wrote easily three to ten books every year from publishing the first The Blue Fairy Book, with such works as treatises and discussions of Golf, or professional anthropological texts, and biographies of famous figures.

The most notable of his works remains The Blue Fairy Book, and a first edition in very good condition hardback, published 1889 from Longmans and Green is still worth $750 and upwards (particularly if the front gold-leaf illustration is in very good condition). In addition to this, a complete set of all twelve of the fairy books would be worth considerably more again, if brought as a unit. A collection of the individually printed first editions could be worth easily upwards of $7000. It is still possible to buy a limited edition ‘set’ of all of the Fairy Books, printed at the end of Lang’s life by his publisher Longman’s and Green, in a hardcover set. If in fine condition with all of the books present (1910) then this set can be worth between $8000 and $15000!


Andrew Lang FBA (31 March 1844 – 20 July 1912) was a Scottish poet, novelist, literary critic, and contributor to the field of anthropology. He is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales. The Andrew Lang lectures at the University of St Andrews are named after him.

Lang was born in 1844 in Selkirk, Scottish Borders. He was the eldest of the eight children born to John Lang, the town clerk of Selkirk, and his wife Jane Plenderleath Sellar, who was the daughter of Patrick Sellar, factor to the first Duke of Sutherland. On 17 April 1875, he married Leonora Blanche Alleyne, youngest daughter of C. T. Alleyne of Clifton and Barbados. She was (or should have been) variously credited as author, collaborator, or translator of Lang’s Color/Rainbow Fairy Books which he edited.

He was educated at Selkirk Grammar School, Loretto School, and the Edinburgh Academy, as well as the University of St Andrews and Balliol College, Oxford, where he took a first class in the final classical schools in 1868, becoming a fellow and subsequently honorary fellow of Merton College. He soon made a reputation as one of the most able and versatile writers of the day as a journalist, poet, critic, and historian. He was a member of the Order of the White Rose, a Neo-Jacobite society which attracted many writers and artists in the 1890s and 1900s. In 1906, he was elected FBA.

He died of angina pectoris on 20 July 1912 at the Tor-na-Coille Hotel in Banchory, Banchory, survived by his wife. He was buried in the cathedral precincts at St Andrews, where a monument can be visited in the south-east corner of the 19th century section.

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