Fairy-Life and Fairy-Land
- of Ercildoune, Thomas

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Commentary

One of the more interesting photopoetic works from this period, Fairylife and Fairyland is also the first full-length photopoem, in English, to be set outside Britain, taking the palaces of Montserrate and Pena (both Portugal) for its locations. That the photographer remains anonymous adds further intrigue, as does the uncertain authorship of the poem: the title page reads that the poem was ‘communicated by Titania through her secretary, Thomas of Ercildoune, sometime of Eildon, Scotland, and called, when habiting this earth, “The Rhymer” and “True Thomas.”’ The Scottish link is an important one, given the general focus on Scotland in mid-nineteenth-century photopoetry. Thomas of Ercildoune was a thirteenth-century Scottish laird who appears as a protagonist in [a series of popular folk tales involving the Queen of Elfland]

The poem and photographs do not appear to have been published independently of each other, which renders the work one of the earliest photopoems in English – opposed to anthologies or collections in which previously published poems were photographically illustrated at a later date

Book Details

Author: of Ercildoune, Thomas
Title: Fairy-Life and Fairy-Land
Publication Year: 1870
Poets Featured: of Ercildoune, Thomas
Subjects: Fairies, Fairy tales, Palácio de Monserrate, Sintra, Portugal, Palácio Nacional da Pena
Photographic process: Albumen prints

This book can be found in the University of St Andrews Library catalogue HERE

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