The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies is a compilation of stories about elves, fairies, fauns, doppelgängers, wraiths, and other beings, collected from his parishioners by Robert Kirk, an Episcopalian minister in the Scottish Highlands, that constituted for him strong evidence for the reality of a supernatural world, existing parallel to ours.
Made in the seventeenth century and published for the first time in 1815 by Sir Walter Scott, then reedited in 1893 by Andrew Lang, with a dedication to Robert Louis Stevenson, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies, has long been difficult to obtain, being available, if at all, only in scholarly editions.
This new edition reviews the spelling and punctuation of Kirk's little book and features a wide-ranging and illuminating introduction by the critic and historian Marina Warner, who brings out the originality of Kirk's contribution and reflects on the ongoing life of fairies in the modern mind.
Robert Kirk (1641?-1692) was the seventh son of James Kirk, Minister of Aberfoyle. He studied at Edinburgh and St. Andrews, became Minister of Balquhidder in 1664, and succeeded his father at Aberfoyle in 1685. Kirk published the first Gaelic translation of the Psalms and oversaw the preparation of the first Romanised version of the Gaelic Bible.
Born in London in 1946, of an Italian mother and an English father who was a bookseller, Marina Warner is a fiction and history writer, whose works explore art, symbols, figures in myths and fairy tales, from the Virgin Mary to Joan of Arc, reviewing the stories that come from the past but speak to the present. A Fellow of the British Academy, Warner is also a professor of English and creative writing at Birkbeck, University of London. In 2015 she was given the Holberg Prize and in 2017 she was elected president of the Royal Society of Literature.