Old French Fairy Tales – Illustrated by Virginia Frances Sterrett
Old French Fairy Tales is a collection of french folklore and fairytales, penned by Sophie Rostopchine, Countess of Ségur (1799 – 1874). Ségur was a French writer of Russian birth, best known today for her novel Les Malheurs de Sophie (Sophie’s misfortunes), intended for children. The anthology contains stories split into four categories: ‘Blondine, Bonne-Biche, and Beau-Minon’, ‘Good Little Henry’, ‘Princess Rosette’, ‘Little Gay Mouse’ and ‘Ourson’.
The stories in Old French Fairy Tales are accompanied by the truly beautiful illustrations of Virginia Frances Sterrett (1900 – 1931). Presented alongside the text, her illustrations further refine and elucidate Ségur’s masterful storytelling. Sterrett was an American artist and illustrator – one of the most talented, though also most tragic, of the ‘Golden Age’ illustrators. Sterrett’s illustrations are delicate yet powerful, inspired by the tradition of Art Nouveaux with its light washes of colour and sinuous black lines. She only completed three works in her lifetime, due to her early death from tuberculosis at the age of thirty-one. These include Old French Fairy Tales (1920), Tanglewood Tales (1921) and Arabian Nights (1928).