Myths, legends, and a secret grandmother up a tower with long silver hair
October 27, 2012 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Trying to identify a book my nanna had on her shelf and that I loved when I was a kid, but has been given away since. I thought the volume was called 'Myths and Legends', though one story I recall in particular strikes me as probably more of a fairy story. It might have been one of a set with a number of volumes.

What I remember is a book an inch or inch and a half thick, similar-looking to those Readers Digest condensed novel sorts of things. I think it had a dark green cloth cover, or maybe blue. In it I remember reading Greek myths including Orpheus' ill-fated journey into the Underworld and about Apollo's daily trip across the sky. I'm pretty sure it was from the same book that I also recall a story about a young girl (princess?) who discovered a secret door and climbed up a twisting set of stairs to discover the secret abode of an old woman with beautiful silver hair who revealed she was the girl's (great?) grandmother. I have the feeling they had a special but secret relationship, hidden perhaps at the old woman's urging. I don't really remember anything more. Maybe something about the moon, or moonlight?

The volume(s) had illustrations throughout - black line drawings - but mostly it was text. So I think it was aimed at older children, maybe 8 to 10 year olds? It may have been on my nanna's shelf since her own children were young; they were born throughout the 50s.

If the book sounds familiar to anyone I'd particularly like to be able to identify it specifically in hopes of finding a copy like what I remember. I realise this is unlikely however, so I'd also love to hear if anyone can help identify the story about the grandmother so I can read it again even if in some other collection.

Thank you!
posted by springbound to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Was it The Family Treasury of Children's Stories, edited by Pauline Rush Evans (1956)? ( link.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:32 AM on October 27, 2012

Best answer: No idea about the anthology, but the story about the princess sounds a bit like George Macdonald's The Princess and the Goblin. First meeting with the grandmother is in Chapter 3.
posted by Bardolph at 9:36 AM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might also want to look at this page from Loganberry Books, as well as this previously.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:37 AM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: MonkeyToes, I think that's it! The covers pictured don't look familiar and I don't recall the ink being in colours other than black, but the style of illustrations is right, it's the right text-to-illustrations ratio, and from what I can read of the text on the sample pages the narrative voice sounds about right too! And there's a 'Legends and Myths' in Book 2, which also has 'Fairy Tales'! I think you might have it! Leaving the question unresolved for the time being in case anyone else knows anything more but as far as I'm concerned, you're a genius!!! Thank you!!!!!
posted by springbound at 9:42 AM on October 27, 2012

Response by poster: AND, Bardolph, that is totally the story I'm thinking of! I don't remember there being gnomes, but Chapter 3 - ahhh that's it, completely! Perhaps my memory is running two books together... but if that's the case I'm happy to have both of these identified, one as much as the next. Thank you so much! My nanna passed away recently and I have fond memories of reading these stories whilst staying with her as a kid and borrowing the books when I couldn't put them down. Thank you both for helping me track them down!

(Also, omg, is there any problem AskMeFi can't solve??? Thank you again!)
posted by springbound at 9:54 AM on October 27, 2012

Another idea: the Collier's Young Folks Shelf of Books published in 1961. Each volume was themed, and they contained chapters from classic books as well as short stories. One volume was "Magic in the Air" which had a dark green cover and definitely contained a chapter from The Princess and the Goblin (see here for a photo of that volume). Another was 'Tales of Long Ago" and I'm pretty sure that one contained some Greek and Roman myths.
posted by andraste at 4:13 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

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