A tiny, doll-sized fairytale created and written for Queen Mary in 1922 is to be published at full size for the first time next month.
Written and illustrated by hand and measuring just 4cm by 3.5cm, J Smith is the story of the fairy Joe Smith, who falls out of Fairyland and lands in London. He is promptly arrested and tries to convince the policeman that he is, in fact, a fairy. "'But they do exist,' said the fairy. / 'And the proof of it is me – / For if I'm not a fairy – / Whatever can I be?'" runs the verse. "'If you won't believe a simple fact, very well then, you shall see.' / He stood up on his little toes – / And out his arms he spread – / Then gently floated through the air – / And round the policeman's head – / Then he … lay down on the ceiling, and / 'Well, p'raps you're right,' they said –'"
Joe then embarks on a series of adventures, including acting on the London stage and trying to become an artist, before returning to Fairyland. The illustrated verse tale, written on postage stamp-sized pages exclusively for Queen Mary's dolls' house, was composed by Fougasse, the pseudonym of Punch magazine editor Cyril Kenneth Bird. Bird was one of the best known cartoonists of the time, remembered today for his second world war posters "Careless Talk Costs Lives".
The tiny book has sat in the dolls' house's library for 90 years, alongside miniature volumes by 170 other authors, including Edith Wharton, Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling. Now the Royal Collection has worked with publisher Walker Books to bring it to a wider audience for the first time, turning the miniature tale into a regular-sized hardback, which is due out in May.
Royal Collection publisher Jacky Colliss Harvey called J Smith "a miniature work of genius, full of sly wit and with Fougasse's unmistakable and charming illustrations". Walker Books publisher Denise Johnstone-Burt said the press had "lovingly reproduced" Fougasse's story and illustrations "so their true wit and beauty can be enjoyed by everyone".
The dolls' house, housed today in Windsor Castle, is one of the most famous in the world, designed by the architect Edwin Lutyens and perfectly mimicking an aristocratic Edwardian residence, from its furnished rooms to its running water, lifts and electricity.
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