"Tales of pioneer hardship and deprivation have been told many times. Yet still we remember in wonder, that people accomplished so much with so little; that men and women with simple tools, their bare hands, and their own inventiveness cleared the land, drained the swamps, made their own clothing and provided their own food. Through all these difficulties God was with them and they wanted their children educated intellectually and spritually." from Norfolk Street United Church history

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chapbooks Reveal Unhappy Fairy Tale Endings

University of Guelph library holds more than 600 titles

Seated: PhD student Sierra Dye. Standing, left to right: Post-doc Andrew Ross, librarian Melissa McAfee, visiting PhD student Dara Folan from the National University of Ireland and Guelph undergrad Jeremy Dechert.

GUELPH, Ontario - September 25, 2013 at Guelph by Andrew Vowles

Happily ever after? Not really, says Adrienne Briggs, a recent Guelph history grad. Fairy tale endings are for Disney. To learn about the original and often graphic stories of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and the like, you might look over some of the hundreds of Scottish chapbooks in the U of G library archives.

That’s what Briggs and other students did earlier this year for a pilot project in their U of G history class that will see old-time chapbooks meet modern communications technology.

Chapbooks were popular booklets containing songs, ballads, poems and short stories written for the increasingly literate Scottish masses of the mid-1700s to mid-1800s, says history post-doc Andrew Ross. Between eight and 24 pages in length, they covered such topics as romance, travel, comedy, politics, fairy tales and social customs.

The books were sold town to town by peddlers, or chapmen, says Ross. Eventually, chapbooks were supplanted by newspapers and other periodicals....read more

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