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A roundup of our Fairy Tale campaign and the conclusions that it led to

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Over the past months we’ve held a fantastic campaign to celebrate the role of fairy tales in children’s lives, and to explore why these stories keep hanging on. Our new series, One Story, Many Voices explores well-known fairy tales told from unique perspectives from all over the world. So, with this in mind, we contacted experts such as academics, writers, storytellers, and asked them the same two questions:

1) What versions of well-known tales were you told as a child? Who told them to you? And where did they come from?

2) Fairy tales often come from stories told a long time ago. Do you think these stories are still relevant today? And, if so, why?

We had a brilliant response! Everyone was eager to share their childhood memories listening to fairy tales, and all agreed that these stories are very much still important today. So to roundup these wonderful responses we thought that we would select a couple of the highlights from the campaign.

Fairy tales contain deep human truths and questions 

Many answers focused on fairy tales ability to share deep human truths and universal feelings that are always relevant, no matter when they’re told.

Many fairy tales contain deep human truths and questions. Set in mythical time, they are constantly open to re-interpretation. How can we not be drawn to them?

Beverley Naidoo

Perhaps what’s so special about fairy stories is that they exist outside of time. They may be set in medieval France or ancient Egypt, but they explore themes which are just as relevant today or one hundred years in the future.

Another way of thinking about fairies and fairy stories is that they are part of our culture’s DNA. They speak to universal longings and hatreds.

Diane Purkiss

Fairy tales are passed on from mother to child, generation to generation becoming more and more entrenched our society each time they are retold. Just like our genes these traditional tales make us who we are.

They are our currency

These old tales are made fresh again every time a new writer chooses to tell them, always finding something in the ancient tales which speaks to modern hearts. Perhaps this is why they are retold again and again by new writers.

Fairy tales are endlessly recycled by authors, because they are extraordinary and always relevant.

Alan Durant

They represent the human experience

These fairy tales share stories and lessons which apply to all of us as people, but place them in different and exciting settings! They continue to be told because humans share a need to represent and pass on their experiences, or adapt stories to reflect on their own lives.

The drive to represent experience as narrative is enduring- it runs through the human race and after all what are fairy tales but stories of lived experience in another world /space /time/ frame? We can learn so much from them.

Teresa Cremin

They offer hope 

If fairy tales were simply good stories, would they have endured this long? Probably not. Fairy tales don’t just explore universal themes and issues, they offer solutions to them too. One of the biggest things they do is offer hope, which is something we are always in need of more of.

 the basic stories endure. Why? Because they are about fairness. They are about identity. They are about overcoming terrible things. They are about love. Through those themes they offer hope, and we humans are always in need of that.

Pippa Goodhart

Reading and listening to these stories can help us to cope with difficult emotions and issues. Fairy tales explore death, hatred, and fear. They’re about being different and alone. They tell the stories that each of us have expereinced in a way that offers hope that there will be a happily ever after. Outsiders find love and acceptance, while characters move on from bereavenemnt and hatred.

Stories are about coping with love and loss, overcoming fear, and having hope, and these are all things children and adults still think about today. Encountering them in magical settings makes them easier to cope with.

Anne Booth

Perhaps the most hopeful message that fairy tales offer us is that everyone in the world can become kinder and better people. In these stories good triumphs over evil and redemption is always possible.

We need fairy tales more than ever! We need them because they deal metaphorically with our problems and give us hope that one day, we humans may become humane.

Jack Zipes

All the responses celebrate fairy tales as something wonderful and extraordinarily relevant today. Many people found fairy tales to be stories of hope, ways of dealing with loss, and a treasure trove of inspiration for writers and illustrators. All in all it seems that fairy tales are here to stay. We hope you enjoyed our Fairy Tale campaign as much as we did!

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