What is an Australian Fairy Tale?

An extract from the AFTS website definition by Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario

‘The roots of fairy tale reach deep into the past of myths, legends, and old wives’ tales. Ancient Greek stories of Rhodopis and Cupid and Psyche, for instance, merge into tales of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. Whether you think fairy tales emerged from a collective unconscious, or were passed along time-worn trade routes, told by old peasant women, or sung by troubadours, it is likely there is truth to all theories. Fairy tales come to us as a ragbag of histories… The term fairy tale is the legacy of Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d’Aulnoy from her collection Les Contes des Fées (1697). Not all fairy tales feature fairies. Fairy tales can include magic, supernatural creatures, metamorphosis, happy endings, true love, superstitions, swordfights, cross-dressing, and even morals, but there are no rules and no definitive claims on authenticity… There are many kinds of fairy tale and they are bound less by what they have in common and more by their capricious nature. / Australia’s fairy tale tradition is rooted in colonialism… distinct from Indigenous storytelling. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, many attempted to create Australian fairy tales – authors and illustrators like Sister Agnes, Atha Westbury, Ida Rentoul-Outhwaite, May Gibbs, and Hume Cook…. As the twentieth century progressed, more authors engaged with Australia’s landscape and national identity, but frequently in dialogue with European tradition. Today, our fairy tales increasingly reflect our diverse population and traditions from Japan, Malaysia, India, Sudan and elsewhere are emerging… The question, in the end, is less what is a fairy tale and more… what can a fairy tale be?’

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