Ask anyone for the names of the great fairy tale tellers, and most people will answer Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. A few may summon up the names Andrew Lang, Oscar Wilde or George Macdonald. But hardly anyone will mention Mary de Morgan, Pre-Raphaelite, suffragette, and one of England’s first feminist fairy tale writers, even though her literary fairy tales were as beautiful, strange and eerie as any told by the famous men above.
Mary de Morgan was born in London in February 1850, a month of wild storms in which windows were broken by hail, slates were torn off roofs, chimneys were blown down, and ships were wrecked upon the shore. She was the youngest daughter of the brilliant mathematician Augustus de Morgan and his wife Sophia, who was tutor to Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron and an accomplished mathematician herself.