Illustrated by H. J. Ford
Andrew Lang's activities extended far beyond folklore. He was a historian, poet, journalist, translator, and anthropologist, in connection with his work on literary texts. Lang was born at Selkirk in Scotland and was educated at Edinburgh Academy, St. Andrews University, and Balliol College, Oxford University, becoming a fellow at Merton College. His poetry includes Ballads and Lyrics of Old France (1872), Ballades in Blue China (1880--81), and Grass of Parnassus (1888--92). His anthropology and his defense of the value of folklore as the basis of religion---his most influential work---is expressed in Custom and Myth (1884), Myth, Ritual and Religion (1887), and The Making of Religion (1898). He also translated Homer and critiqued James G. Frazer's views of mythology as expressed in The Golden Bough. He was considered a good historian, with a readable narrative style and knowledge of the original sources (e.g., History of Scotland [1900--7], James VI and the Gowrie Mystery , and Sir George Mackenzie ). In addition, he wrote some novels, not well thought of today; however, his critiques of contemporary novels are still highly regarded. Lang's popularity was established with his collections of "Fairy" books, which were always titled with a color, such as The Blue Fairy Book. These books preserved and handed down many of the better-known folk tales from the time; however, his use of the term "fairy" to cover all kinds of folk tales continues to plague scholars, who generally distinguish between the terms "fairy" and "folk," judging fairy tales to be more of a fanciful creation and less grounded in cultural experiences, customs, and beliefs.