Beauty and the beast (Gordon Browne's series of old fairy tales)
Gordon Browne (1858-1932) was a prolific illustrator who created several picture books in full color, published around 1880. Beauty and the Beast is a retelling of an old story first written by Madame Villeneuve aiming at adult audience in the fashion of fairy tales presented by so called-precieuses. It's actually a retelling of a classical myth about Cupid and Psyche. This mesmerising story was interpreted in countless ways and is by no means meant for children only, as on might expect knowing only the popular Disney version.
Well, this is a version for children with a lot of colored illustrations by Gordon Browne and presented as a novelette, not as a typical picture book. This means the story has a well developed plot with relatively complex characters, yet it's still written for young audience.
We'll summarize this immortal fairy tale using pictures as the base, only adding a sentence or two to make the story flow clear.
The book was published by Blackie & Son in London and Glasgow.
It's a co called frontpiece with Belle and The Beast sitting on the bench in one of the scenes from the middle part.
Here we see an inside title page with a group of kids sitting around the tree, waiting to hear the story. The book is organized as a frame story of the talking tree telling different fairy tales just like the famous Scheherazade told her stories (which were often even more complexly built) to her bloodthirsty husband.
There was a rich merchant with three daughters. They were all beautiful, yet the youngest the most beautiful of all. Their names were Superba, Gracilia and Beauty.
All three had loads of suitors, but none of them wanted to marry. Superba and Gracilia thought too highly of themselves, but Beauty believed her father needs her more than her future husband.
It so happens all of father's ships were lost at the same time due stormy weather and a family got into financial trouble. Older daughter din't help a bit but thanks to Beauty's hard work and her friends who appreciated her sacrifice they still got enough food to eat.
Then father go some good news. Part of his merchandise survived and he had to leave to take it and sell it. He asked his daughters what they want for presents at his return. Superba and Gracilia asked for jewelry and Beauty wanted only a white rose.
There was a big feast helping the merchant selling his goods with huge profit.
The merchant was rich again.
On the way home the merchant got lost in the forest.
Finally he found oneself in front of castle.
He entered and invisible hands served him with best foods and drinks.
Next day, on the way out he finally found a white rose for his youngest daughter. When he picked it ...
A horrifying beast blocked his path. The merchant prayed for his life and the beast pared him on one condition. If one of his daughter comes to his enchanted castle to replace him.
It was a painful return home.
The Belle (Beauty) got her rose not knowingly how high price there must be paid for it.
When the merchant finally told the said news, all of his daughter were crying.
The Beauty offered to replace her father in the castle and he accepted he sacrifice.
She showed more courage than her father.
She stayed alone in the castle. It was a lonely place.
Invisible hands served her too.
Then she met the master of the castle - The Beast.
They started talking and became quite friendly after a while. Yet Beauty missed her family and asked for the permission of visiting so long The Beast allowed her. In return she had to promise she'll think about marry him after return.
He felt down and said he will die if she won't return in a week.
Beauty's father was lying sick, worrying to death for his daughter. She explained how friendly is The Beast. She made a decision she'll marry him.
A carriage with four black horses drove her back worrying if The Beast is all right.
The Beast transformed into a handsome prince. His name was Bellino. He explained her he was cursed to look as he did until somebody started loving him. That was her.
Kids were happy with the ending of the story of the Beauty and the Beast.
They lived happily ever after of course.
If you want to find more interesting facts about this classic story with a lot of intriguing facts behind the book and its creators, don't hesitate visiting: