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Durham University

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Public Lecture - Between Worlds

(5 February 2018)

This illustrated talk, given by cultural historian Gail-Nina Anderson, tracks how fairies changed once they moved from being creatures of oral folklore to being visualised via the expectations of academic art, then re-created within a sentimentalised concept of childhood and imagination. This free lecture will take place on Monday, 12 February at 6pm in the Learning Centre at Palace Green Library. To reserve your place, please call 0191 3342932 or email

How do you recognise a fairy?

Older beliefs about fairies were rarely written down and hardly ever illustrated. The fairies of folklore didn’t look much like ‘Tinkerbell', and were certainly not suitable companions for small children.

While the fairies of modern imagination tend to be small, cute and obligingly eco-conscious, this image has essentially developed from the uneven interaction of older texts with Victorian artistic traditions. A heady mixture of classicism, botany and Shakespearean reference has ultimately engendered the familiar fairy of today, complete with gossamer wings and flower-petal skirts.

The Between Worlds exhibition will remain open for private view by lecture attendees between 5pm and 6pm.

For more information please see the Palace Green Library ‘What’s On’ guide at: