‘Triumphal March of the Elf King’. 1870. Plate 4. Coloured wood engraving by Edmund Evans. 8½ x 12 inches. Another of Doyle’s intricate ensemble pieces in which he experiments with a form he often uses elsewhere – the processional frieze. Doyle individualizes the characters and situations, creating a rich panorama of quaint detail that includes the King’s tripartite beard, lovers kissing, and others playing leap-frog and tormenting insects. As usual, the fauna are indeterminate in scale – with snails as large as a bird – and purely imaginative in terms of their species: though executed in Pre-Raphaelite detail, Doyle manipulates this discordance to remind us that this is ‘Fairyland’, an alien world of the imagination, and not a miniaturized version of the English countryside. Evans’s coloured printing is again of the highest quality, creating a jewel-like intensity that evokes Doyle’s visionary dream with unsettling, uncanny directness. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Photograph and text by Simon Cooke. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.


Doyle, Richard, and William Allingham. In Fairyland. London: Green and Co., 1870 [1869].

Created 10 September 2021