Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Farjeon, Eleanor

(1881-1965) UK writer known mostly for her poems and stories for children, but also a formidable author of works for adults, several of which are fantasies. She began publishing with Floretta (1899 chap), a libretto for music by her brother Herbert Farjeon (1887-1945). Her first independent book was Pan-Worship and Other Poems (coll 1908 chap), the title poem of which is a typical Edwardian effusion about Pan caught in stone Bondage in a suburbanized Arcadia. Her first novel, The Soul of Kol Nikon (circa 1914; slightly rev 1923), is a fantasy account, told in a mode remotely evocative of Nordic Fantasy, of the eponymous Changeling's doomed attempts to find a Soul through the power of his Music, which allows him to go through a forced Identity Exchange with the fiancé of a young woman, whom he seduces; he is eventually stoned to death. Other adult fantasies include Gypsy and Ginger (1920), a Theodicy-tinged jeu d'esprit about London, where the eponymous newlyweds set themselves up in a house in Trafalgar Square, from which they listen as the animals and mythical folk of the city lament the Thinning of their world. In The Fair of St James: A Fantasia (1932) the protagonists enter an Otherworld in which a glorious fair is taking place, and which serves as a kind of Frame Story for various tales. Ariadne and the Bull (1945) sees the classic story Twice-Told in a modern US setting.

EF's reputation now rests on her work for children, beginning with the Martin Pippin sequence: Martin Pippin in the Apple-Orchard (coll of linked stories 1921) – some individual tales being released as The King's Barn, or Joan's Tale (1927 chap), The Mill of Dreams, or Jennifer's Tale (1927 chap) and Young Gerard, or Joyce's Tale (1927 chap) – and Martin Pippin in the Daisy Field (coll of linked stories 1937). In both volumes the eponymous Puck figure solves Riddles and tells fantasy tales – including the famous "Elsie Piddock Skips in her Sleep" – to either the six original girls involved in complex folkloristic games with Martin or (in the second volume) their six children. As his name implies, Martin Pippin is not only a Trickster but an analogue of the Green Man, and in that guise is a spirit of vegetation; despite superficial resemblances, therefore, he is most unlike Peter Pan. Other volumes similarly – though never with quite the intensity – present various tales through frame stories narrated by Liminal Beings; they include Kaleidoscope (coll 1928), The Old Nurse's Stocking-Basket (coll 1931) and Jim at the Corner (coll 1934). Fantasy novels for children include The Silver Curlew: A Fairy Tale (1953) and The Glass Slipper * (1955); the first is a twice-told version of Rumpelstiltskin and the second – based on the play The Glass Slipper (1946) by EF and Herbert Farjeon – is a version of Cinderella. [JC]

other works for adults: Arthur Rackham: The Wizard at Home (1914 US), about Arthur Rackham; Faithful Jenny Dove and Other Tales (coll 1925); Humming Bird: A Novel (1936); A Room at the Inn: A Christmas Masque (1956 chap).

other works for children (selected): Nursery Rhymes of London Town (coll 1916 chap) and More Nursery Rhymes of London Town (coll 1917 chap); All the Year Round (coll 1923; vt Around the Seasons 1969), poems; contributions to the Basil Blackwell "Continuous Stories" Series for younger children, beginning with Tom Cobble (1925 chap) and ending with Jim and the Pirates (1936 chap); Joan's Door (coll 1926), poems; Italian Peepshow and Other Tales (coll 1926 US; vt Italian Peepshow and Other Stories 1934 UK; rev vt Italian Peepshow 1960 UK); One Foot in Fairyland: Sixteen Tales (coll 1938); Come, Christmas (coll 1927), poems; An Alphabet of Magic (1928), poem; The Tale of Tom Tiddler (1929); Westwoods (1930 chap); Sing For Your Supper (coll 1938), poems; The New Book of Days (coll 1941); The Starry Floor (coll 1949 chap); Silver-Sand & Snow (coll 1951), selected poems; The Little Book-Room (coll 1955) and Eleanor Farjeon's Book: Stories, Verses, Plays (coll 1960), both compilations, both illus Edward Ardizzone.

Eleanor Farjeon


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.