fairy godmothers can be working for the heroines or their conniving adversaries.
they can be evil, or hold a grudge and take it out on the child.
“fairy godmothers” may be fairies- but they aren’t necessary alluded to as having wings- they can pretty much appear at will- or arrive via chariot (decked out with fiery dragons, or butterflies, depending on the occasion.)
madame d’aulnoy is perhaps the earliest user of fairy godmothers in fairy tales. charles perrault famously used a fairy godmother as a replacement for the traditional cinderella tales where cinderella’s deceased mother is replaced by a gift-giving tree or a kind-spirited animal.
the thirteen (or 8 fates if you read perrault’s telling instead of the brothers grimm’s) wise women of the sleeping beauty can technically be classified as fairy godmothers because they give gifts. beyond toys and treasures, they bestow gifts of charm and loveliness.
the moral of charles perrault’s cendrillon, or the little glass slipper, possibly the most familiar telling of the cinderella tales, ends with:
Charm is the true gift of the fairies;
Without it you’ve nothing; with it, all.
i’ve perhaps taken a bit of liberty with my fairy godmother piece, as there is no SET character of the fairy godmother throughout fairy tales, folktales, storybooks, or otherwise.
let’s look at my process for creating this painting in the faerie tale feet series, and then below, i’ll share where i got each specific background icon!
i’ve included background icons from these various fairy tales:
“The White Doe” told by Andrew Lang, via Madame D’Aulnoy (the dragons, for pulling chariots; a white dove; and a doe)
“La Sendraoeula,” an italian cinderella tale (the acorn, which cinderella taps with a wand and “a lovely dress like stars with golden shoes” appears)
“The Blue Bird,” by Madame D’Aulnoy (big flying frogs; the beautiful bird, actually the prince King Charming under enchantment from his beloved Florine’s rival and wicked stepsister Truitoone’s god-mother Soussio, the fairy)
“Finette Cendron,” by Madame D’Aulnoy (the golden key to open the fairy casket full of gifts which the more you took from it, the more there was in it; also starry diamond bursts, as her dress was “a gown of blue satin covered with stars of diamonds”)
Quite possibly the earliest cinderella telling, by greek historian strabo, from the first century b.c., in which the egyptian courtesan rhodopis is bathing in the nile and an eagle carries her shoe to memphis and drops it in the king’s lap, prompting him to search for the shoe’s owner and marry her. (the egyptian sandal)
“Cendrillon, or, The Little Glass Slipper,” by Charles Perrault, 1697 (the pumpkin for the carriage; the clock about to strike midnight)
i also added wings, because i would want some if i were a fairy godmother.
and for good measure, here are a few favourite fairy godmother quotes i came upon in my usual miles upon tomes of miles of my research:
- “a folktale is not just the spoken equivalent of a literary short story. it has no set text, but is endlessly re-created in the telling.” ~neil philip, the cinderella story, the origins and variations of the story known as ‘cinderella’
- “oh! i’ve lost one of the shoes off my feet,” said trembling. “don’t mind that; don’t be vexed,” said the henwife; “maybe it’s the best thing that ever happened to you.”~from “fair, brown, and trembling,” an irish cinderella tale, 1890.
- “and it is not difficult to imagine how happy they were after having known so many hardships.” ~from madame d’aulnoy’s “the blue bird,” circa 1895.
- “everything that a baby could possibly wear or play with was there, and, besides, they had other and more precious gifts to give her, which only children who have fairies for godmothers can ever hope to possess.” ~from andrew lang’s telling of “the white doe,” by madame d’Aulnoy, 1906.
- “the glass slipper is where i got the idea i might not be the best fairy godmother. if you think about it, it’s completely impractical, uncomfortable, and un-walkable-in. but i’m good at shoes. the shoes are the only thing that last beyond midnight. everything else turns back.” ~helena bonham carter, on playing the fairy godmother in kenneth branagh’s cinderella, 2015.
- “there’s a lot of power in godmothering. it’s like being a part of history.” ~from terry pratchett’s witches abroad, 1991.
- “will she live happily ever after?” he said. NOT FOREVER. BUT PERHAPS FOR LONG ENOUGH. and so stories end.” ~from terry pratchett’s witches abroad, 1991.
- “The Authors, are in Eternity.” ~william blake, 1803.
- “The story is, after all, what matters.” ~p. l. travers, about the sleeping beauty, 1975.
“go! with the promise of possibility!”
& have a magical day!