Image: ‘Oberon and Puck’, Kenny Meadows (1846), from the Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive.
Take heed the Queen come not within his sight,
For Oberon is passing fell and wroth
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream, II.i.19-20)
The King of the Fairies features in late medieval and early modern literature as a figure of mischief and mayhem, most often going by the name of Oberon. He is a commanding figure throughout his textual history, and one that Helen Cooper describes as a ‘judge or arbiter, though his arbitration may show more of arbitrariness than of justice’. Romances explore his magical influence, and the ways in which his otherworldly fairly kingdom interacts with, and is encountered by, the more mundane world. This month, we are reading a selection of poetry, prose and drama from the fourteenth century to the late sixteenth, in which the King of the Fairies can be…
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