Miniature Royal Fairy Tale to Grow and Grow

  on
Queen Elizabeth II
Reuters file photo.

In its current form, the matchbook-sized children's book J. Smith can only be enjoyed by the most diligent of readers, armed with deft fingers, a magnifying glass and an abundance of patience.

But all that will change next month when the tiny fairy tale, created originally in 1922 for the library of Queen Mary's dolls' house, will be published in full, human size.

The project is being undertaken by children's publisher Walker Books, in collaboration with the Royal Collection. Its publication in early May will coincide with this year's celebration of the Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne.

The idea to recreate one of the dolls' house books took shape when staff at the Royal Collection were examining the house, in Windsor Castle just west of London, several years ago for a separate book project. The dolls' house, arguably the world's most famous, includes a fully stocked wine cellar, electricity, and working lifts.

The publishing department had a look at the library and were really inspired to recreate this particular book, because it's really known as one of the gems of the dolls' house library, said a spokeswoman for the Royal Collection.

This is one of the loveliest to recreate.

J. Smith, by cartoonist Fougasse - the pen name of Cyril Kenneth Bird - tells the story of a fairy who finds himself blown out of Fairyland and into 1920s London, trying to convince those around him that he really is a magical being. The original book measures about 4 cm by 3 cm.

Bird, a former editor of Punch magazine, was best known for his World War Two-era propaganda posters including the Careless Talk Costs Lives series.

He wrote the book by hand and in verse, with lines like, 'But they do exist,' said the fairy/'And the proof of it is me/For if I'm not a fairy/Whatever can I be?'

Royal Collection photographers made images of the book's pages, and Walker then created a special font designed to imitate Bird's handwriting as closely as possible.

The book will be published in hardcover and sold for 10 pounds ($16) in bookstores and through the Royal Collection website.

Join the Discussion