Andrew Lang (31 March 1844- 20 July 1912) biography and famous works

Andrew Lang (31 March 1844- 20 July 1912) was a Scottish folklorist, novelist, literary critic, anthropologist, and man of letters. He is mainly remembered for folk and fairy tales, and translations of Homer. He was born in Selkirk, Scotland, and was educated at St Andrews University and Balliol College, Oxford. He became a fellow of Merton College, but in 1875 left Oxford for London, becoming one of the most prolific writers of his day. He wrote poetry, belles-lettres, imaginary letters, and dialogues. He is mainly remembered for folk and fairy tales. His famous melodramatic novels are The Mark of Cain (1886) and The Disentanglers (1902).

He collaborated with H. Rider Haggard in The World’s Desire (1891) and with A. E. Mason in Parson Kelly (1899). As a Greek scholar, Lang devoted himself largely to Homer. He was one of the joint authors (with S. H. Butcher) of prose versions of the Odyssey(1879, preceded by his sonnet ‘The Odyssey‘) and (with W. Leaf and E. Meyers) of the Iliad (1883). He wrote on the Homeric question, arguing with the unity of Homer. He also took part in the Baconian controversy favoring Shakespearian authorship, in Shakespeare, Bacon and the Great Unknown (1912).

Lang’s first book on folklore, Custom and Myth, did not appear until 1884, but contained papers written and printed much earlier. Myth, Ritual and Religion, deal chiefly with totemism (a belief system based on a mystical relation between an individual, or group, and an animal, or plant), was published in 1887, and The Making of Religion in 1899. Lang is remembered for his own fairy stories, which include The Gold of Fairnilee (1888) and Prince Prigio (1889), and Prince Ricardo of Pantouflia (1893), both set in the imaginary world of Pantouflia, and for his twelve collections of folk and fairy-tales, some in translation. Each volume was named after a different colour, from The Blue Fairy Book (1889) to The Lilac Fairy Book (1910); they did much to stimulate interest in fairy tales. In their compilation, Lang was greatly aided by his wife, Leonora. He edited other collections including the Arabian Nights (1898). His Tales of Troy and Greece (1907) was long regarded as a children’s classic. The Andrew Lang lectures at the University of St Andrews are named after him.

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