Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Dryads

The tree-nymphs of Greek mythology, originally associated with oaks, although the term has been broadened to encompass all wood-spirits. Those inhabiting specific Trees perished when the trees died; those associated with groves could endure much longer, like the ones in The Dryad (1905) by Justin McCarthy (1860-1936) and Forbidden Marches (1929) by E V de Fontmell; both feature love affairs between men and dryads and are determined Allegories of Thinning. Other human/dryad love stories include "The Hamadryad" (1909) by Bernard Capes (1870-1918), "The Woman of the Wood" (1926) by A Merritt and "Forsaking All Others" (1939) by Lester del Rey; J K Musäus's "Libussa" (circa 1780) is about the offspring of such a union. Kindly dryads are found in "Old Pipes and the Dryad" (1887) by Frank R Stockton and "The Dear Dryad" (1924) by Oliver Onions, which features a matchmaking oak. Dryads are assimilated to the population of Faerie in the title-story of Frank White's The Dryads and Other Tales (coll 1936); they play important roles in several fantasies by Thomas Burnett Swann, most significantly "Where is the Bird of Fire?" (1962; exp 1976 as Lady of the Bees) and its sequel Green Phoenix (1972). Moral tales include Utinam (1917) by William Arkwright (1857-1925) and "When Pan was Dead" (1905) by Laurence Housman, a heartrending tale of a "woodling" who fails to adapt to the advent of Christianity. "The Hardwood Pile" (1940) by L Sprague de Camp is a comedy. Celtic tree-spirits feature in "The Annirchoille" (1896) by Fiona MacLeod. [BS]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.