Today the Mirror published a piece by Professor Bill Gray to mark the 150th anniversary of Jacob Grimm’s death:
Grimms’ Fairy Tales exerted a profound influence on many generations, and defined what a fairy tale is
As we mark the 150th anniversary of Jacob Grimm’s death, literary history professor Bill Gray looks at why his work became a classic
Jacob Grimm died 150 years ago today, four years after his younger bother Wilhelm.
Together they changed forever the face of literature, especially children’s literature, with their collection of stories usually translated into English as Grimms’ Fairy Tales.
This book came to dominate all other fairy-tale collections, and especially through the Disney animations, has exerted a profound influence on many generations. The Grimms came to define what we think a fairy tale is.
Continue reading “Piece in the Mirror to mark 150th anniversary of Jacob Grimm’s death”
The UK’s National Theatre just released a short film clip about fairy tales featuring Phillip Pullman, Sally Gardner and Professor Bill Gray.
The clip is in support of its new production of George MacDonald’s The Light Princess opening later this month.
Professor Gray was featured in the Evening Argus newspaper on Saturday as part of a series called “Celebrating Sussex”. A clipping is reproduced below.
When Professor Bill Gray launched the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, it was the realisation of a long-held ambition.
Brought up on fairy tales read by his father, he studied the Brothers Grimm and other
German storytellers while reading modern languages at Oxford and went on to publish a well-received book on the work of JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Philip Pullman, among others.
Continue reading “Feature in the Evening Argus”
Professor Gray has co-edited a new volume of essays on C.S. Lewis called Persona and Paradox: Issues of Identity for C.S. Lewis, his Friends and Associates. His preface is available here. The following is an excerpt from the blurb:
Although certain aspects of C. S. Lewis’s work have been studied in great detail, others have been comparatively neglected. In this collection of articles, we look at Lewis’s life and work, and those of his friends and associates, from many different angles, but all connected with the concept of identity.
Questions of identity are essential to the understanding of any writer. The ways authors perceive themselves and who they are, the communities they belong to by birth or choice, inevitably influence their work. The way they present other people, real or fictional, are also be rooted in their own conception of identity. In this volume, scholars from several countries examine gender and family roles, national, regional, racial and professional identities, membership of a particular church, ideological attachments and personal descriptions, either with regard to Lewis and those who knew him and influenced him or in a study of their writings. Authors studied here include J.R.R. Tolkien, Dorothy L. Sayers, Charles Williams, George MacDonald and T.S. Eliot.
Professor Gray helped to advise the “Snow White and the Huntsman” film, as the University of Chichester reports:
A University of Chichester Professor has acted as a consultant to a major Hollywood blockbuster set to be released on 30th May.
Professor Bill Gray from the University’s English & Creative Writing department provided expert consultancy for the new fantasy film Snow White and the Huntsman, which stars Twilight actress Kristen Stewart.
An expert in fantastical literature and is Director of the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, Bill has written several books around the subject. His books include Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth: Tales of Pullman, Tolkien, Lewis, MacDonald and Hoffmann; Death and Fantasy; and Fantasy, Art and Life.
Continue reading “Fairy Tale Advice for “Snow White and the Huntsman” Film”
Professor Gray was recently interviewed by the Independent about Philip Pullman’s new adaptations of Grimm’s tales:
Bill Gray, professor of English literary history at the University of Chichester, said: “This is really exciting. Philip Pullman is the right man; he tackles this stuff supremely well.”
He said: “I think these old tales connect with very basic issues. There is something about the stories that, if not eternal, they are certainly classic.”
Professor Gray, who founded the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy and who has written on Mr Pullman, continued: “Philip Pullman writes stunningly well. He deals with big issues including values and the meaning of life.”
This comes amid a series of live action film adaptations of Grimm’s tales. These include two upcoming takes on Snow White – Professor Gray advised on Snow White & the Huntsman – which follow Red Riding Hood last year.
Professor Gray’s book launch is featured in the local Portsmouth News:
A UNIVERSITY of Chichester professor will be launching the final volume of a trilogy of books on fantasy literature next week.
Bill Gray, professor of literary history in the department of English and creative writing, will present Fantasy, Art and Life: Essays on George MacDonald, Robert Louis Stevenson and Other Fantasy Writers, which is now available in paperback.
Although there was no original plan to write a trilogy, Prof Gray says he was compelled to draw his writings together to form a complete overview after his first book Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth in 2008.
But after writing the second book Death and Fantasy, he was reluctant to leave it at that and decided on the third book which focuses on how fantasy literature provides an insight into the real world.
Prof Gray said: ‘Call me superstitious, but it didn’t feel right to leave the last word to death.’
The book launch takes place in Cloisters, on the Bishop Otter Campus, on November 23 from 5.15pm to 6.30pm.
Professor Gray was invited to write a short piece about Massenet’s fairytale opera Cendrillon for the Royal Opera House blog:
Massenet and the origins of the story
Cinderella is probably the best known of all fairy tales, with literally thousands of variants all over the world, the most famous being that penned by the 17th-century French author Charles Perrault (albeit based on the pre-existing folk tales). In Massenet’s opera Cendrillon, he and his librettist Henri Cain stick pretty closely to Perrault’s version, though they introduce Cinderella’s flight to the fairy’s magic domain in the country.
The great variety of the versions of the Cinderella tale all centre round an ill-treated heroine, usually recognized by the prince by means of a shoe. The heroine’s magical helper or donor doesn’t necessarily take the form of a fairy godmother, but can be a magical bird, cow, fish or tree. Grimms’ version of Cinderella (Aschenputtel, sometimes translated Ashypet) has a magic hazel tree instead of Perrault’s fairy godmother.
It is interesting to note the differences between Perrault’s French Cinderella and the Grimms’ German version, which in several respects has been eclipsed by the former, especially in popular culture. The Grimms’ version—which has no fairy godmother, but a magical tree—is, indeed, much grimmer, with the stepsisters hacking off bits of their foot in order to fit the slipper (the dripping blood gives them away), and having their eyes pecked out at the end of the tale. By contrast, Perrault’s Cinderella, which Massenet follows, has a conciliatory ending, with Cinderella, ‘who was as good as she was beautiful’, taking the repentant sisters to live with her in the prince’s palace and arranging advantageous marriages for them.
Continue reading “Folklore, Fairy Tales and Feminists: Cendrillon”
Professor Gray’s edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s fairy tales is featured in the Guardian:
The literary betrayal of one of the most popular writers in the English language, Robert Louis Stevenson, is to be avenged in the first collected edition of the great Scottish writer’s little-known Samoan fairytales.
Stevenson, the author of the classic adventures Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, spent the last years of his life on the Samoan island of Upolu where he wrote a series of fantastic tales and fables that he specifically asked to be published as a set.
However, instead of complying with the writer’s request, his literary agent, Sidney Colvin, asked Cassell to publish two of the fairy stories – The Bottle Imp and The Isle of Voices – in a volume alongside a naturalistic short story of a completely different type.
“Colvin, his supposed friend back home, stitched him up. He decided they should be published together because he thought he knew what was best and what would make the most money,” said Bill Gray, professor of literary history at Chichester University.
Gray, who is also director of the university’s Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, has campaigned for six years to have Colvin’s decision remedied.
Continue reading “Robert Louis Stevenson Gets His Revenge on Sneaky Literary Agent – 120 Years Later”
The Argus ran a piece on the Mervyn Peake conference and exhibitions instigated by Professor Gray:
Attention is about to return to the region with aficionados from across the world descending for the first ever Mervyn Peake Conference, organised by the University of Chichester and the Sussex Centre For Folklore, Fairy Tales And Fantasy, in July.
Guest speakers include Peter Winnington, author of Peake’s authorised biography, and Sebastian Peake, Mervyn’s son, who now administers the Mervyn Peake Estate with his sister Clare Penate (who, coincidently, is mother to singer Jack Penate).
Peake’s nonsense and poetry illustrations, including The Hunting Of The Snark and Rhymes Without Reason, will be on loan from his estate for an exhibition at the university’s Otter Gallery opening May 26.
Across the city, at Pallant House Gallery, visitors have the chance to see a collection of Peake’s illustrations which, as with those at the Otter Gallery, were originally brought together for a show at Maison d’Ailleurs in Switzerland. This is the first time they have been put together for a UK show.