Opal Whiteley’s “Fairyland” – Urbanized era ideal gift? Simulacra anthropomorphic innocence?

I was searching online for copies of Opal Whiteley’s rare 1918 self-published nature book for children, “The Fairyland Around Us”, and came across this very odd description of a publication being offered by a book dealer in China:

“Fairyland Around Us” by HUAI TE LI.  Book Description: Soft cover. Book Condition: New. […] Paperback. Pages Number: 239 Publisher: Chinese Theatre Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2005). sold nearly a hundred years of Anglo-American nature classics of literature, the famous writer Wang Meng, a famous poet Bei Dao, a famous writer Wang Shuo, the film director Zhang Yuan , a famous writer to the United Arab recommended. urbanized era ideal gift, washing anxious restless spirit springs, ideal for books worth reading a hundred times. prodigy into the inner world, feelings of unity with nature Zen tranquility. She eyes unusually warm, she was always faithful to carefully outline the forest creatures that live; her heart is extraordinarily sensitive, and to divine the thoughts and emotions to get to the bottom of the delicate emotions and feelings that animals and plants; her natural the child with a childlike perception of this world, and the answer is to tell more people – even people that age is not, it still can feel the pulse of the Qingyi and profoundly touched. simulacra anthropomorphic Innocence interesting language, Fairyland Around Us is a dreamy and familiar. time rotation, memory beginning, young age of curiosity and imagination are so stubborn and insist on gratifying and lovely. then every things are active, you can to talk to. revisit such a context, people could not help but smile . . Ao Paer was a child prodigy, she was sent under God, the true human spirit. no matter what she was in Department, she can feel and revel in the beauty around me, she loves every piece of forest land and said, This is the most wonderful to live in the world […]”

And that has to be the strangest write up on Opal that I’ve ever seen, and likely will ever see.


About David Barker

David Barker is the author of two works of weird horror fiction written in collaboration with W. H. Pugmire: The Revenant of Rebecca Pascal and In the Gulfs of Dream & Other Lovecraftian Tales (both books were published by the now defunct Dark Renaissance Books, but copies are still available from Dark Regions Press.) Barker and Pugmire also collaborated on a Lovecraftian horror novel, Witches In Dreamland, which will be published by Hippocampus Press, possibly in late 2017. Recently, his stories and poems have appeared in Fungi, Cyaegha, Spectral Realms, The Art Mephitic, The Audient Void, The Indiscriminate Mixture and on Shoggoth.net. He has a short story in the weird fiction anthology, Nightmare's Realm, edited by S. T. Joshi and published in 2017 by Dark Regions Press. He also has published several works of horror and bizarro fiction as Kindle ebooks, including the bizarro zombie novel Dead Guys in Packards. Together with Jordan Hofer, David Barker has written two nonfiction books about UFOs and alien abduction: Little Gray Bastards (published in 2016 by Schiffer Publishing) and Unidentifiable Flying Objects (due in Fall 2017 from Schiffer.)
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2 Responses to Opal Whiteley’s “Fairyland” – Urbanized era ideal gift? Simulacra anthropomorphic innocence?

  1. Did you ever find any copies of the 1918 Fairyland around us by Opal Whiteley? I was wondering what they are worth? I bought a copy almost 40 years ago as a teenager in love with unique children’s books. Now, I am considering selling it.The cover is no longer intact but all the pages are…I can not find any available to see what they are worth…any info would be appreciated!

  2. David Barker says:

    Hi Lynn, yes, I did find a copy, but that’s pretty hard to do. I’ve located about 50 known copies worldwide in the almost 20 years I’ve been studying Opal Whiteley. The book is worth anywhere from $500 to $1500 in good condition. Many of the leather bound copies are missing the back strip on the binding, and those are worth lower amounts. If the binding is completely gone, the book might sell for $250, I’m guessing. In that condition, it would be worth having it rebound to protect the pages. All copies, in any condition, are of interest, because in some ways the book is handmade, and also many copies have interesting inscriptions by Opal. I would love to see some photos of your copy, especially any inscription, and the color plate pages where Opal hand wrote poems using black ink. There is a lot of variation between copies on these plates. Most copies have five such color plates with hand written poems. Some day I hope to publish a bibliography on Opal with details on the differences between various copies of The Fairyland Around Us. Something you should know is that she self-published the book, raising the money for the printing and binding by teaching and lecturing, and when the printer wanted more than the agreed amount, due to her many changes in the text, and she didn’t have the money, he destroyed the color plates that had been prepared for the book and that’s why Opal made her own illustrations, hand writing the captions and poems on stock plates she’d gotten from commercial sources. Each copy really is a work of art.

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