Off the Shelf: Katherine Hepburn Fairy Tales

Well, it’s better late than never! After a long day of editing — did I mention that’s what I do for a living? — it was so nice to just kick back and flip through these illustrations from World of Stories: Six Stories Told by Katherine Hepburn.

Yes, that’s Katherine Hepburn, actress with the lovely and dramatic cheekbones. Her face is on the cover, but I’m not sure if the stories are actually “told by” her or not. It never says for sure in the foreword. But Hepburn does reveal a little personal info in the foreword. She says,

When I was a child, I listened, enchanted, as Grandfather Hepburn, who was a minister, told his special versions of fairy stories. He retold the old stories, but added something of his experiences and personality. And this is the way with the best of story-telling. It is to live, it keeps on growing.

There are six stories total, and you’ve already seen one: The Nightingale, which I shared last week. All the stories have a different style of illustration, suited to the context of the story being told.

Here’s the first one: The Emperor’s New Clothes, illustrated by Christopher Marlowe (wow, there are all kinds of famous names in this post).


Look at that proud and overly muscular emperor. I love these prim and proper illustrations with their hard black outlines. Almost like political cartoons.


Uh-oh! Naked prancing!


The next story, Jack and the Beanstalk, is illustrated by Ginny Humphreys. Here’s that lazy Jack and his poor, starving (blue-haired?) mother.


Gotta love the wild, crazy wateriness of the vibrant colors all running together.


Gaaah! The bone-crusher!



This little-known tale (at least in the U.S.) is Tattercoats, illustrated by Alison Claire Darke. Here’s the ill-dressed little princess with her faithful friend, the lame, pipe-playing goatherd.


I love the peaceful quality of these illustrations.


Like every princess of old, Tattercoats got prettied up in the end when her little frock is transformed into a ball gown.


And here’s Beauty and the Beast. In the foreword, Hepburn said that her first acting role was when she was 12, and she played the Beast. Poor thing, she had to wear a donkey’s head, blue velvet britches, vest, and cape trimmed in silver cord.

In this illustration by Brian Lee, a totally naked Beast assaults Beauty’s dad for picking a red rose off his property. (Take it up with the HOA, Beastie.)


I’m not overly crazy about these illustrations.



Isn’t it interesting how the man-version of the Beast always has shaggy hair?


Hope you enjoy these stories from Katherine the Great.



3 thoughts on “Off the Shelf: Katherine Hepburn Fairy Tales

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