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September/October 2013
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The Gates of Horn, by Bernard Sleigh (1926)

TWO MEN from the Birmingham area of England were indelibly inspired after seeing Peter Pan on stage in the early twentieth century. Both went on to write about fairies, illustrating their own stories, and to become especially renowned for their maps. One was J. R. R. Tolkien, whose name is world famous, while the other, Bernard Sleigh (1872-1954), is less known, though his An Anciente Mappe of Fairyland (1917) became popular in college dormitories when it was re-issued as a poster in the 1970s. Sleigh taught art and wrote textbooks on artistic design and wood engraving, as well as publishing A Guide to the Map of Fairyland (1917), The Faery Calender (1920), some collections of poems, and other works.

Sleigh's primary work of fiction is The Gates of Horn: Being Sundry Records from the Proceedings of the Society for the Investigation of Faery Fact & Fallacy (1926). Basically it is the casebook of some ten or so incidents of human encounters with fairy beings—a female sea-creature, a changeling, a dryad—or people with fairy blood. In one case, the ingestion of mescal buttons allows someone to see the fairy world. The individual stories themselves are engaging and well-told, though the framing matter to do with the Society is rather dull. Sleigh provided a frontispiece, as he did for a follow-up booklet, The Dryad's Child (1936). E. F. Bleiler, in a rare critical lapse, thought Sleigh was spoofing Arthur Conan Doyle's belief in fairies, but Sleigh entirely sided with Doyle.

—Douglas A. Anderson

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