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Andrew Lang (1844 - 1912)

Lang, Andrew

Andrew Lang was born in Selkirk, Scotland on March 31st, 1844. He was educated at Selkirk Grammar School, Edinburgh Academy, both St. Andrews and Glasgow Universities, and Balliol College, Oxford. He graduated from Balliol in 1868 and became a Fellow of Merton College until 1874. Lang's first publication was The Ballads and Lyrics of Old France (1872). Other volumes of verse include Ballades in Blue China (1880), Ballads and Verses Vain(1884), Rhymes à la Mode (1884), Grass of Parnassus(1888), Ban and Arrière Ban (1894), and New Collected Rhymes (1905).

The windy lights of Autumn flare;
I watch the moonlit sails go by;
I marvel how men toil and fare,
The weary business that they play!
Their voyaging is vanity,
And fairy gold is all their gain,
And all the winds of winter cry,
'My Love returns no more again.'"
(from Ballade of Autumn)

Lang went to London in 1875 and there married Leonora Blanche Alleyne. The two translated and adapted traditional stories specifically for children, including the Blue Fairy Book (1889). For his prose translation of The Odyssey, Lang, a Homeric scholar, collaborated with S. H. Butcher in 1879, then with E. Myers and Walter Leaf for The Iliad in 1883. Homer and the Epic appeared in 1893 and Homer and his Age in 1906.

Pursuing his interest in Scottish history, Lang wrote The Portraits and Jewels of Mary Stuart (1906) and James VI and the Gowrie Mystery (1902). In 1900 Lang began a History of Scotland from the Roman Occupation. He also edited The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns (1896). Best known as the collector of folk and fairy tales, Lang also wrote about religion and mythology, including Custom and Myth (1884), Myth, Literature and Religion (1887), The Making of Religion, and Social Origins (1903)

He was one of the founders of the study of "Psychical Research" (scientific investigation of extraordinary or unexplained). His writings on the subject include The Book of Dreams and Ghosts (1897), Magic and Religion (1901), and The Secret of the Totem (1905).

Lang died in Aberdeen on July 20th, 1912.

Famous quotations by Andrew Lang:

  • An unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts - for support rather than for illumination.

  • He missed an invaluable opportunity to hold his tongue.

  • Life's more amusing than we thought.

  • Suggested sites for Andrew Lang:

    Encyclopedia article about Andrew Lang
    Texts by Lang
    The Arabian Nights
    A collection of twenty-six short stories as told by Scheherazade in order to save herself and others from death.
    The Yellow Fairy Book
    A collection of fairy tales.

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