About my wizard's library
Somehow my invitation to Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry got lost in the post. Not to worry – I had already decided that I would be a homeschooled wizard, and so over the years I’ve been building a library of magical textbooks – real books that contain information about magic and spells, beautiful artwork, and of course secret intelligence on magical creatures such as dragons, and unicorns, and goblins (I’m majoring in cryptozoology, don’t ya know). I intend to be fully prepared when that owl eventually turns up at my door.
Seriously though, I get a lot of requests to do a bookshelf tour, but I have way too many books for that to be a viable option. So I thought I’d invite you along on a little tour of one of my favourite, and most magical, shelves instead. Two warnings – firstly, this isn’t a Harry Potter collection tour – I have lots of HP books, but they are on another shelf and I’ll do that tour another day if people are interested – and secondly, a social media stress reminder that I definitely cleaned up these shelves before I started filming, and out of sight of the camera I have book stacks all over the place, so don’t forget that other people’s pretty shelves are not a reflection of otherwise perfect lives.
The Video Tour - Part 1
Links to the books
If you happened to see any books you particularly liked during the tour, I have listed the best of them below, along with details and some links to help you find them. (Feel free to contact me directly with questions about any of the books that aren’t in the list.) This entry covers the first half of the bookshelf, part 2 covering the second half has been filmed and is being edited, so I will be posting it very soon!
Note: if you’d like to buy (in print) books from local Indie bookshops in the US, I’ve also created a “magical library” list on bookshop.org that you can use to find various volumes of interest included in the list below.
The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures – John & Caitlín Matthews
There are several books in this series of comprehensive guides to magical creatures, fairies, spells and other such fun. Some are still available new, but many are now out of print (OOP).
The Isle of Gramarye – Jennifer Westwood, Pauline Baynes
A beautiful vintage collection of magical poetry, with illustrations by the talented Pauline Baynes, who also famously illustrated the Narnia and Lord of the Rings series.
The Magical Unicorn Society – Selwyn E Phipps, Aitch, et al
A vibrantly illustrated collection of books on unicorn lore, including The Magical Unicorn Society Official Handbook, A Brief History of Unicorns/The Golden Unicorn, and a Unicorn Society colouring book.
The Enchanted Library – Carolyn Turgeon & Faerie Magazine
Gorgeously illustrated treasuries of literature, lore, art, recipes and projects on faeries, mermaids and unicorns.
The Hamish Hamilton ‘Book of’ myths, legends and magical tales series – various authors
A vintage collection of books edited by leading children’s authors of the 1970s that contain short stories and excerpts from famous literature about dragons, giants, goblins, magical beasts, witches, wizards, and other myths, legends and folklore.
→ Buy from Abes (OOP)
Once Upon A Time – various authors, edited by Roger Lancelyn Green, illustrated by Voijtech Kubasta
A gorgeous vintage book of fairy tales from around the world, with stunning illustrations by the Czech artist Voijtech Kubasta. There are several different editions of this collection, and it is so lovely it deserves a post all of its own [coming soon…]
The Poppykettle Papers – Michael Lawrence, illustrated by Robert Ingpen
Follows the story of mythical, ancient, Peruvian gnomes whose story is discovered in the modern day by two boys who find The Poppykettle Papers.
Shapeshifters – Adrian Mitchell, illustrated by Alan Lee
Stories recreated from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which the Minotaur, King Midas, Arachne, Bacchus, Persephone, and many more haunting figures walk the Earth once more. Stunning artwork by Alan Lee.
Dragons and Unicorns: A Natural History – Paul & Karin Johnsgard
A purportedly ‘scientific’ look at dragons and unicorns, from the evolution and anatomy of dragons and unicorns to their own special skills (e.g. fire-breathing in dragons, reliable virgin detection in unicorns). Includes illustrations.
Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop – Reginald Bakeley
In this charming guide, ‘fairy hunter’ Bakeley offers practical instructions to clear your home and garden of these unsettling inhabitants, and banish them from your chicken coop and kitchen cupboard forever.
Raising Unicorns – Jessica S Marquis, illustrated by Kevin Hedgpeth
Everything you need to know to make a good living as a unicorn farmer. From choosing the right breed to picking the unicorn farm management dream team. Actually, not a bad economics primer. Die-cut cover.
The Box of Demons – Daniel Whelan, illustrated by Chris Riddell
A young boy is plagued by a box containing three troublesome demons that he wants to return to hell. The Limited Edition has a special pop-up illustration by Chris Riddell.
Fairyland – Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
Exquisitely illustrated sprites and pixies, highlighted by images of kangaroos, koalas, kookaburras, and other creatures of Outhwaite’s native Australia, with accompanying verses by her sister, Annie R. Rentoul, and stories by her husband, Grenbry Outhwaite.
The Cottington Fairy Books – Brian Froud
In the early 1990s, Brian Froud unearthed the Victorian diary of Lady Angelica Cottington and discovered that whereas other gentlewoman of her time pressed flowers between their diary pages, the young Lady Angelica pressed fairies. Or rather, the psychic impressions of fairies. There are several books in this delightful series, I love them all.
⮑ Learn more about the books in the Cottington Fairy series here… [coming soon]
Fairyland – Mabel Lucie Attwell
A sweet collection of fairy tales and nursery rhymes. The fairy tales included are ‘Red Riding Hood’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Hop o’ My Thumb’, ‘Tom Thumb’, and The Snow Queen. Colour pictorial cover with 8 colour plates by various artists, and numerous black and white illustrations by Attwell.
Fairyopolis series – Cicely May Barker
A collection of new books that explore the world of Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies, featuring ephemera such as postcards, mini-books and letters plus tabs, lenticulars and pop-ups. Includes Fairyopolis (The Flower Fairy Journal), Return to Fairyopolis and How to Find Flower Fairies.
The Atlas of Monsters – Stuart Hill & Sandra Lawrence
One day a collection of very old maps in found in a dusty library. They show where in the world monsters from mythology and folklore can be found. Inside this wondrous atlas are trolls and dragons, minotaurs and krakens, goblins and giants … as well as a puzzle to solve.
Celtic Faeries – Jean Baptiste Monge
A delightfully illustrated collection of fairies, gnomes, goblins and other fairy creatures from Anglo-Saxon and Celtic legends. [Text in French.]
L’Herbier des Fées – Benjamin Lacombe and Sébastien Perez
While looking for an elixir of immortality, Rasputin’s research led him to the Dark Forest, famous for its medicinal plants and legends. This lovely book combines botanical correspondence, fairy characters, laser cut pages, and other wonders. [Text in French]
→ Buy from Abes (OOP)
Dragons, Little People, Witches, Fairies, Rolls and Elves – Edouard Brasey
Each of the four seasons has particular celebrations and this book aims to bring some of the background to these rituals and traditions. A simply massive book – lavishly illustrated throughout by some of the world’s best illustrators, including Arthur Rackham, Gustave Dore and Walter Crane. Glorious.
Fantastic People – Allan Scott and Michael Scott Rohan
A celebration of fantasy characters from hundreds of years of myth and legend, tracing the origins of gnomes, goblins, elves, trolls, dragons, etc. The work of many illustrators is used, including Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, Edmund Dulac, as well as more contemporary artists. Text is minimal, but illustrations lovely.
The Complete Encyclopedia of Elves, Goblins, And Other Little Creatures – Pierre Dubois, illustrated by Claudine and Roland Sabatier
The first half of this volume is devoted to the various species of elves, creatures that flourish in both day and night, such as Sylphs, Selkies and Will-o’-the- Wisps as well as more obscure species.The second half leads us through a vast variety of invisible and frightening creatures who haunt hollow and attic, forest and ocean. Gorgeously illustrated and very comprehensive, although the translation from the original French is a bit sketchy.
The Great Encyclopedia of Faeries – Pierre Dubois, illustrated by Claudine and Roland Sabatier
French elficologist Pierre Dubois describes the extraordinary richness of the faery kingdom, presenting dozens and dozens of lushly illustrated entries on the most powerful and enchanting denizens of this magical world. Dubois provides readers with authoritative information detailing the customs, habitat, and activities of these Little People. Accompanied by entrancing illustrations by the Sabatiers.
Flowers & Fairies – Margaret Tarrant and Marion St John Webb
A long running series of miniature books on the theme of flowers and fairies, including Forest Fairies, Heath Fairies, House Fairies, Insect Fairies, Orchard Fairies, Seashore Fairies, Seed Fairies, Twilight Fairies, Water Fairies and Wild Fruit Fairies.
Flower Fairies – Cicely Mary Barker
A collection of eight miniature fairy books, originally published between 1923 and 1985, including Flower Fairies of the Spring, Flower Fairies of the Summer, Flower Fairies of the Autumn and Flower Fairies of the Winter, A Flower Fairy Alphabet, and Flower Fairies of the Trees, Flower Fairies of the Garden and Flower Fairies of the Wayside. Also available in larger omnibus editions.