Anchor/Vintage, 1998 & Expanded Second Edition 2002

Fairy tales are one of the most enduring forms of literature, their plots retold and characters reimagined for centuries. In this elegant and thought-provoking collection of original essays, Kate Bernheimer brings together twenty-eight leading women writers to discuss how these stories helped shape their imaginations, their craft, and our culture. In poetic narratives, personal histories, and penetrating commentary, the assembled authors bare their soul and challenge received wisdom. Eclectic and wide-ranging, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall is essential reading for anyone who has ever been bewitched by the strange and fanciful realm of fairy tales.

Contributors include: Alice Adams, Julia Alvarez, Margaret Atwood, Ann Beattie, Rosellen Brown, A. S. Byatt, Kathryn Davis, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Deborah Eisenberg, Maria Flook, Patricia Foster, Vivian Gornick, Lucy Grealy, bell hooks, Fanny Howe, Fern Kupfer, Ursula K. Le Guin, Carole Maso, Jane Miller, Lydia Millet, Joyce Carol Oates, Connie Porter, Francine Prose, Linda Gray Sexton, Midori Snyder, Fay Weldon, Joy Williams, Terri Windling.



Long, long ago before fairy tales were sanitized, generations of bloodthirsty children enjoyed the ghoulish stories packed between book covers by Hans Christian Andersen and the brothers Grimm. Their plots seethed with curious, featherbrained girls who sealed their doom by opening forbidden doors; resourceful siblings deliberately lost in the woods by weak, loving fathers; and boys left with wings for arms when a hurried transformation was bungled. Margaret Atwood, Francine Prose, and Fay Weldon are among the 24 contemporary women authors in Mirror, Mirror on the Wall who contribute lucid, powerful essays on the fears, morals, and archetypes fairy tales scrawl out in letters ten-feet tall.
--Francesca Coltrera, Women's Studies contributing editor


Editor Bernheimer, formerly a creative writing fellow at Phillips Exeter Academy, has brought together 24 contemporary women writers to discuss the impact of fairy tales on their personal lives, their work, and the cultures in which they were raised. Authors such as Julia Alvarez, Margaret Atwood, Rosellen Brown, A.S. Byatt, bell hooks, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Joyce Carol Oates, and Linda Gray Sexton write diverse essays, from personal histories to scholarly explications of the tales that continue to resonate, from childhood into adulthood. Amidst a plethora of works on the symbolism and archetypal significance of fairy tales as well as heated debate in many forums concerning the merits of Disney's animated versions, this is a refreshingly honest look at the genre on a realistic and personal level as well as a revealing look at the writers themselves. Recommended for gender studies collections in all school, academic, and public libraries.
--Katherine K. Koenig, Ellis Sch., Pittsburgh, Library Journal