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Fables and Fairy Tales. 0013: Charles Perrault, Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper

Author: Perrault, Charles (abridged from)
Title: Cinderella; or, the little glass slipper
Cat. Number: 0013
Date: No date but c.1820
1st Edition: Perrault first published 'Cinderella' as one of his Histoires ou contes du temps passé in 1697; they were first translated into English, as Histories, or tales of past times, in 1729
Pub. Place: London
Publisher: W. Savage, 16 Walcot Place, Lambeth
Price: Unknown
Pages: 1 vol., 35pp.
Size: 14 x 8 cm
Illustrations: Frontispiece plus 11 wood-cuts ('by Nesbit')

Images of all pages of this book

Page 002 of item 0013

Introductory essay

The text which appears here is much fuller, and more faithful to Perrault, than that offered in many other contemporary chapbook versions of the tale (e.g. 0012). What delights most, though, are the small-scale, 'elegant engravings on wood', produced, as the title-page boasts, 'by Nesbit'. Charlton Nesbit (1775-1838) had been apprenticed to Thomas Bewick before moving to London in 1799 and establishing himself as a prominent book illustrator. He has presented the characters of Cinderella in full Regency dress (e.g. p.10 and p.31), suggesting a publication date of c.1820, which would correspond with the middle of his career. It seems likely that Nesbit's rather sober portrait of Cinderella's fairy godmother - she looks more a governess than a fairy (pp.16-17) - reflects the wariness of introducing fantasy and the supernatural into children's literature which was still felt in the first two or three decades of the nineteenth century. As the text makes clear, Cinderella's saviour was a godmother first and foremost, and a fairy only incidentally (p.14).

The Hockliffe Collection possesses two further, probably contemporary versions of Cinderella: 0012 and (as part of a collection of Mother Goose's Tales: 0031.

For more on Cinderalla see Warner 1995, 201-217, and Opie 1980.

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Warner, Marina, From the Beast to the Blonde. On Fairy Tales and their Tellers, 1994, rpt. London: Vintage, 1995

Opie, Peter and Iona, The Classic Fairy Tales, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974, rpt. London, 1980