I was recently reading Tad Williams' "War of the Flowers" and one detail reminded me of something I read a while ago: it was a collection of short stories about elves and fairies - the detail was that the upper-class fairies had their wings surgically removed because flying around was seen as lower-class. It was a very striking idea, but I can't find the original story and haven't seen it acknowledged anywhere. I'm fairly sure the original was written in the early part of the 1900's, since my copy was quite old, bought at a yard sale (American, hardcover). There were a few line drawing illustrations.

The only other thing I remember is one story where the two fairy protagonists, who are lovers, run away and hide in a church bell tower, where they are killed by the sound of the ringing bells (which is accurate to folklore). Their delicate wings decay, and when their bones are found, they are assumed to be two lost children and given a Christian burial.

Good luck with this one! I know the details are sparse but this is all I can remember.

1 Answer 1


Perhaps Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner. It's probably 30 years since I read it, and I don't specifically remember the details you mention, but they do have the sort of feel I remember. Although it wasn't published until 1977 it always gave me the impression of being much older. There's a long review here: http://www.murrayewing.co.uk/mewsings/2013/06/01/kingdoms-of-elfin-by-sylvia-townsend-warner/ Which includes this: "...they have wings and can fly (though the aristocratic ones scorn flight, thinking it only suitable for servants)"

Additional info: I've dug out my old copy of the above, and the third story "Elphenor and Weasel" features a pair of fairies who die in each others arms from the sound of bells in a church bell tower in January. Their decayed bodies are found in April and buried as "Two Stranger Children" ...so I reckon that makes this very likely the book you're looking for.

  • That's it! I had the blue cover with the tree on it - I'm really surprised it was from the 70's! Thanks a bunch :)
    – Viergacht
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 7:18
  • No problem. I've got the yellow paperback. Yes, it does seem surprising that it's 1970's, I think that it's the style of writing that gives it (probably quite deliberately) a sort of Victorian feel Commented May 18, 2018 at 12:08

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