The first points in the Objectives of the Australian Fairy Tale Society are:
- Collecting original Australian fairy tales, fairy tale adaptations, interpretations, and criticism
- Organising and cataloguing this fairy tale collection meaningfully for maximum accessibility by Australian and international researchers, educators, and creatives
Because there are so many ways Australians, from the plurality of our cultural origins, have created and interpreted fairy tales we cannot have a physical archive or museum. Instead we have this database as a source for the stories, non fiction, art, performances, and many other forms of creative expression. This record of the history of fairy tales creations by Australians can never be complete because research and creation is ongoing, however it should provide future researchers with a map of what we have done and what we can do in expressing our identity through this transcultural form.
The database is currently being built.
Operational definition of fairy tale to distinguish them from fairy stories in Australian literature
For the purpose of identifying what type of stories were created, fairy tales are stories which contain:
- Dysfunctional family. In Rise stories (e.g. the miller’s son or daughter who becomes a monarch) this is usually the family of origin, and in Restoration stories (where a prince or princess are thrown out into the world) this will probably come from the villain who has taken power.
- Main Character attaining maturity – a coming of age story to achieve identity, authority, and home.
- Told in third person point of view
- Nebulous time
- Magical transformations
- Confrontation with evil
- HEA (Happy Ever After) = gaining power and/or a home – although there are some literary fairy tales with sad endings.
A second group of characteristics is often encountered in fairy tales but their inclusion or exclusion does not distinguish a story one way or another:
· Settings of cottage, castle, forest
· Themes of sleep, hunger, imprisonment.
Although stories and story collections popularly described as fairy tales have often included fairy stories, folktales, and urban legends, they are distinct genres.
Fairy tales are identified by including:
· Young children as Main Characters and targeted audience
· Magic is startling to Main Characters
· Often very overt symbolism e.g. a sorcerer called Knowledge
· Morals: to submit to someone else’s authority.
Jo Henwood 2022