The Art of Book Design: Old French Fairy Tales

Old French Fairy Tales by Comtesse De Segur; illustrated by Virginia Frances Sterrett; 1920; The Penn publishing company, Philadelphia.

I’m not sure why, but Saturdays seem like a good day to showcase Fairy Tales. Perhaps because I spent every Saturday with my grandparents when I was young and my Opa loved to tell me stories.

Today’s story book is a classic of the Art Nouveau period and was illustrated by the incomparable Virgina Sterrett. Sterrett was only 20 when she received the commission to illustrate Old French Fairly Tales and the art she created is rich and full of colour and delicate details. Sterrett was diagnosed with tuberculosis shortly after the completion of this book and her failing health limited her ability to work. She did go on to complete the illustrations for two other books before her death at the age of 30. I will be showcasing those books over the next 2 Saturdays so make sure to tune in. But now, let’s just enjoy a few of the wonderful illustrations of Sterrett’s first book, Old French Fairy Tales.

The book comes to us from the Public Domain Review, but the entire book can be accessed at The Internet Archive.

Roslie saw before her eyes a tree of marvellous beauty

She threw her arms around the neck of Bonne-Biche

They were three months passing through the forest

A part of the wall crumbled with a terrible noise

They walked side by side during the rest of the evening

“Ah, ha! you are at last in my domain, little fool!”

Violette consented willingly to pass the night in the forest


  1. voyager says

    I know, right.
    It’s definitely a worthy addition to your library. (I’m surprised you don’t already have it.)

  2. Ice Swimmer says

    I think I can see Japanese influences. They were a part of the Art Nouveau.

    Or it’s just that I see Japanese influences everywhere after visiting this.

  3. says

    It runs about $80 on ebay for 1st editions. Bery collectible!

    It seems to me as though the art style and magical look influenced the design of the elven zones in World of Warcraft.

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