Growing Up in “a new sort of country”

Charting Transnational Identities in the Fairy Tales of Margaret Collier Galletti di Cadilhac


  • Claudia Capancioni Bishop Grosseteste University





In the second half of the nineteenth century, Margaret Collier Galletti di Cadilhac (1846-1928), a little-known writer, published Prince Peerless: A Fairy Folk Story Book (1886), a collection of fairy tales that demands scholarly attention as a valuable experiment with imagining permeable national cultural borders. Collier’s writing appealed to the Victorian readership because it represented unfamiliar Italian geopolitics she understood well as a British resident in Italy. This article, for the first time, opens the door to her Anglo-Italian nursery to examine the ways in which her multilingual and multicultural family stimulated Prince Peerless, a Christmas book beautifully illustrated by John Collier (1850-1934), the author’s younger brother. It explores how, through fantasy, she moves beyond factual and practical experience of negotiating Anglo-Italian dynamics and speculates on the potential of growing up multinational. In her tales, fairies, elves, and gnomes are an effective vehicle in representing linguistic, cultural, and sociohistorical diversity. Her fantastic creatures are an essential interlocutor for children to grow up understanding the value, as well as the challenge, of being other, of cultural differences, interaction, and negotiation. This article studies how Prince Peerless charts new geographies of encounters between children, or young adults, and magical creatures. In the fairy tale, I argue, Margaret Collier finds a subjunctive form to explore how childhood experiences of visiting fairylands can shape one’s cultural models of identity and transcend national borders by configuring identities that go beyond sociocultural expectations defined by nation states and assert a multilingual and multilayered identity.

Author Biography

Claudia Capancioni, Bishop Grosseteste University

(Dott. (Urbino, Italy), MA (Hull), PhD (Hull)) is Reader in English Literature at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU), Lincoln (UK), where she leads the English Department and the research unit, Voicing the Past: Culture, Legacy, and Narrative. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. The contribution of women to literature in English in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries is her scholarly passion. She specialises in Victorian Studies, life and travel writing, transgenerational intertextuality and gender studies. She has a keen interest in intellectual circles, multigenerational literary legacy, and transnational and translation studies. Her recent publications include chapters and articles on Janet Ross (2020, 2018, 2014), women’s suffrage (2019), Alfred Tennyson (2017), and Michèle Roberts (2020). She has also published on the Gothic, detective fiction, and Anglo-Italian literary and cultural connections from the Risorgimento to the Resistance, and Joyce Lussu.


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How to Cite

Capancioni, C. “Growing Up in ‘a New Sort of country’: Charting Transnational Identities in the Fairy Tales of Margaret Collier Galletti Di Cadilhac”. Age, Culture, Humanities: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 5, Jan. 2021, pp. 1-25, doi:10.7146/ageculturehumanities.v5i.130865.