Fairy Locks

Isn’t there something indescribably sweet about the rumpled hair of a sleeping child?


Sweet Dreams by Marianne Stokes, 1875, via Wikimedia Commons


In days of old, mothers (and, no doubt, grandmothers) attributed a bit of magic to the tousled tresses of sleepy little girls.


Sleeping Girl on a Wooden Bench by Albert Anker (1831-1910) via Wikimedia Commons


What might have been poo-pooed as the work of pesky pillows was instead fancied as the work of fairies, who were said to visit during slumber to tease and tangle the tresses …


Thus Your Fairy is Made of Most Beautiful Things by Sophie Gengembre Anderson via Wikimedia Commons


Hence, the term “fairy locks” or “elf locks,” referring to locks of hair tangled as if by sprites.

“Fairies, they say, tangled and knotted the hairs of the sleeping children as they played in and out of their hair at night,” tells A Child’s Book of Faeries by Tonya Robin Batt.



If only they weren’t so hard to comb smooth once again!

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I am with you Mary Jane! It is the reality of screaming little girls when you eventually have to comb out their tresses that dissipates the allure of cute fairy locks! At least that was the case with my girls when they were little!!

  2. Corri Riebow says:

    Ahhhhh…..so this is why my daughter always wakes up with her hair full of knots!

  3. Nancy Coughlin says:

    Thanks for the name of the book by Tonya Robin Batt. I do believe it will be added to my shelf of Faery books.

  4. I wanted to write this yesterday but was beset with shoveling out of my farmette after a big snow storm.
    The best of the Fairy books are the ones written and charmingly illustrated by Cicely Mary Barker in the 1920’s. My favorite is ” A Flower Fairy Alphabet”. Delightful poems about flowers and the Fairies that look after them. Have to be seen to be truly appreciated. There are books on ” Flower Fairies of the Summer” and so forth. Hard to find and may be out of print. “The Girl’s Book of Flower Fairies ” is a new publication with her drawings and much more, suggested crafts, games, activities, history of the fairy lifestyle,etc. The Pinetree Seeds Catalogue http://www.superseeds.com , sells it ( or I’m sure it’s online ). But best yet, they sell real Cicely Mary Barker Flower Fairy figurines as well.

  5. ooohhhhh – just searched on Amazon and found scads of the fairy books and more by Cicely Mary Barker. So you can really have some fairy fun now! How delightful, even paper dolls !

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