On this day…
9th April, 1768 – Sarah Fielding died
Sarah Fielding (8 November 1710 – 9 April 1768) was a British author and sister of the novelist Henry Fielding. She was the author of The Governess, or The Little Female Academy (1749), which was the first novel in English written especially for children (children’s literature), and had earlier achieved success with her novel The Adventures of David Simple (1744).
Did You Know?
Sarah Fielding was one of the first scribes of the literary fairy tale, a bold move during a time when fairy tales were considered frivolous and certainly not proper fare for children.
Fielding not only paved the way for fairy tales, but she also paved the way for using fairy tales as subversive texts. She used fantasy to do the very thing the time period dictated it couldn’t: to teach moral lessons. Additionally, because her tales offered greater moral complexity than their successors, we can also view Fielding as a founder for the more complex fairy tale retellings that are so prevalent in our contemporary media. Contemporary fairy tales turn the stories we know on their heads, offering social critiques and using tropes we understand to show us new definitions of those tropes. Fielding did this by using tropes people at the time understood – good girls, moral behavior, storytelling to impart moral behavior – and sneakily offering a route to rebellion.
Writers – For those interested visit this wordpress blog for top-tips on writing your own fairy tale.