Fairy Tales from the Land of the Wattle. With Illustrations by Dorothy Ashley
Melbourne, McCarron, Bird and Co., .
Small quarto (external dimensions 215 x 172 mm), 94,  (colophon) pages with 15 full-page illustrations by Dorothy Ashley (and occasional generic endpieces).
Three-colour pictorial papered boards a little bumped and worn at the extremities, with minor loss to the head and foot of the spine (and minor surface loss to the paper on the spine); trifling signs of handling; essentially a very good copy of a rare and fragile item.
Muir 2350 (supplying the date; giving dimensions of 200 x 160 mm). The printed note from the publisher states in part that the 'following short stories ... the work of a young Australian girl ... are offered here simply as Tales told by a Child to younger Children [underlined in the original] ... a loving study of tree and flower, bird and insect, and the association of familiar elements of old-world fairy lore with Australian surroundings'. Olga Ernst (1888-1972), the Australian-born daughter of German migrants, was just sixteen when this book was published. She 'was one of a small group of writers who attempted to nationalise the fairytale towards the end of the 19th century, signalling quite clearly that they intended to affix the elves and fairies of Europe onto the Australian landscape filling a void that was keenly felt by the children of emigrants and the Australian-born children of emigrants' (Robin Floyd: 'Olga Ernst's Contribution to the Development of Australian Identity in Children's Literature' [a paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education Annual Conference, Melbourne, 2010]). Floyd, an ernest admirer to be sure, continues: 'From a 21st century perspective Ernst's fairytales do seem clunky and 'not quite right'. It seems unnatural to find mermaids from the cold Baltic Sea swimming in the Yarra or discovering water nixies who the reader may surmise would be more comfortable in the rivulets of Europe than living in a ferny billabong. Nonetheless, primary sources, critiques and reviews in newspapers at the time 'Fairytales [sic] from the Land of the Wattle' was published, reveal that reviewers saw it as a step forward for Australian children and that linking the old world lore with the new was a logical progression. Reviews of her books are extensive in comparison for those for other early fairytalers, and are discovered in three states: New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria suggesting the market embraced to her writing in a positive way'.