Nicholas Jubber, "The Fairy Tellers: A Journey into the Secret History of Fairy Tales" (John Murray, 2022)


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In The Fairy Tellers: A Journey into the Secret History of Fairy Tales (John Murray, 2022), Nick Jubber unearths the lives of the dreamers who made our most beloved fairy tales: inventors, thieves, rebels and forgotten geniuses who gave us classic tales such as 'Cinderella', 'Hansel and Gretel', 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Baba Yaga'. From the Middle Ages to the birth of modern children's literature, they include a German apothecary's daughter, a Syrian youth running away from a career in the souk and a Russian dissident embroiled in a plot to kill the tsar. Following these and other unlikely protagonists, the book travels from the steaming cities of Italy and the Levant, under the dark branches of the Black Forest, deep into the tundra of Siberia and across the snowy fells of Lapland.

“This is how the history of fairy tales operates: stories splintering along zigzagging pathways, carrying long-sounding echoes that turn down narrative alleyways suggested elsewhere or replicate each other with astonishing exactitude.”

In the process, Jubber discovers fresh perspectives on some of our most frequently told stories. Filled with adventure, tragedy and real-world magic, this bewitching book uncovers the stranger lives behind the strangest of tales.

This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, focusing on qualitative analyses of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. However, she is also a life-long lover of fairy tales & fantasy; her father continues to be surprised that her PhD did not once mention dragons, elves, or castles.

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