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Flower Fairies are the product of English illustrator Cicely Mary Barker. Unable to go to school as a child because of her epilepsy, she was home-schooled and spent much of her time drawing and painting. Her artwork was influenced by illustrator Kate Greenaway and even more so by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and she developed her talent as a member of the Croydon Art Society. Her flower fairy paintings, in particular, were driven by the Victorian popularity of fairies and fairy stories.
Cicely Mary Barker published her first Flower Fairies book in 1923; she received £25 for Flower Fairies of the Spring, a collection of twenty-four paintings and illustrations. The books enjoyed huge popularity due to Queen Mary’s well-known interest in fairy art. She later published seven more volumes of Flower Fairies. Following the publication of Cicely Mary Barker’s original Flower Fairy paintings and verses, two series of fairy stories featuring original Flower Fairies characters, Flower Fairies Friends and, more recently, Secret Stories, have also been published. The Flower Fairies were Cicely Mary Barker’s most well-known creations. They are notable in particular because of the sweet, realistic depiction of the children, modeled on children enrolled in her sister Dorothy’s kindergarten. She has also been likened to Beatrix Potter in the botanical accuracy of the plants and flowers amidst which the fairies dwell.
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