Brian Froud and Ari Berk’s Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Letters

cover art for Pressed Fairy LettersThe third volume exploring the world of notorious Lady Angelica Cottington, Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Letters brings us a collection of her correspondence, saved and carefully pressed along with more of her victims . . . er, specimens . . . in another insanely fascinating companion to her Pressed Fairy Book. Though ‘verified and presented’ by the esteemed scholars Brian Froud and Ari Berk, Lady Cottington’s scrapbook of letters and receipts is noted in the foreword by these noted authorities as “its provenance being highly questionable and its subject being of such an obscure nature.” They do go on to point out that Angelica Cottington had lived a very sequestered life, and that the possibility of contact with so many famed personalities was unlikely. It is even suggested by some that the fairies themselves compiled this book as a prank, and some were pressed betwixt the pages while carrying out their little joke, but Berk and Froud deny this possibility.

Certainly it is not outside the realm of possibility that Lady Cottington was acquainted with some of the notables purported to have written to her. Madam Blavatsky and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would certainly have shared Lady Cottington’s interest in the fairy world! Carl Jung is noted as having been the Cottington family’s therapist. Clearly the note from Oscar Wilde complete with menu for one of his parties is something that a kind man would have written back to a young fan, though one does wonder if young Angelica Cottington would truly have written a letter to Wilde at the precocious age of but 4 years!

Still, it is enlightening to find Wendy Darling’s perspective on fairies (“. . . and to be sure, for a very long time I would rather have squashed Tinkerbell than said ‘good morning’. . . .”) from a letter kindly forwarded by J.M. Barrie himself. And apparently Andrew Lang did not fully approve of the young Cottington’s artistic endeavours with squashed fairies. A note from Rackham asking for advice must certainly have been exciting for Lady Cottington.

This reproduction of Lady Cottington’s scrapbook is a delightful read, full of little scraps of enticing artwork and beautifully “preserved” fairies. The letters are fascinating, though as the curators point out, they can be a bit confusing because they are arranged in an order understood only by Lady Cottington herself. Overall, though, this just adds to the charm of exploration.

Highly recommended for fairy lovers and historical scholars alike.

(Harry N. Abrams, 2005)


Maria Nutick grew up in Central Oregon. She began questioning consensual reality at a very young age, and so her Permanent Record notes that she Did Not Apply Herself and Had Trouble Working Up To Her Full Potential. She sometimes Did Not Play Well With Others. In college, of course, she majored in Liberal Arts.

In the interest of Making Ends Meet she has done everything from baking to managing a theater. She lives in Portland, Oregon with the Furry Horde : 3 cats (Thor, Lucifer, and Moonshine), 2 dogs (Karma and Mojo), and 1 husband. She's an artsy craftsy type, and -- oh horrors -- a poet.

Her favorite writers are Holly Black, Emma Bull, Zenna Henderson, Charles De Lint, Parke Godwin, Terri Windling, Sheri S. Tepper, Will Shetterly, and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. She highly recommends, if you happen to be blue or just having a bad day, that you try listening to Silly Wizard's "The Queen of Argyll", Boiled in Lead's "Rasputin", and most importantly Tears for Beers' "Raggle Taggle Gypsy" and "Star of the County Down". It's hard to be sad while dancing with wild abandon. At least, Maria thinks so.

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