Cyclopaedia 12: Fairies

Welcome to Cyclopaedia 12: FairiesCyclopaedia is a monthly article on the InnRoads Ministries website as part of the Resources series. This is a time for celebration. First, I am celebrating one year of writing Cyclopaedia. Thanks to everyone who has read the articles and encouraged me to continue with this monthly series. Second, Christmas quickly approaches and that means we can should celebrate the work of Saint Nick and his helper elves as they diligently prepare for the upcoming holiday. To celebrate the work of Santa’s elves and all the elves behind the scenes that keep InnRoads running, we shall delve into the mysterious and magical realm of fairies. Grab your pixie dust and lets fly!

If you have questions about this article or topics you would like me to consider researching for future Cyclopaedia articles, please leave a comment below.


Fairies (also called Aos Si, changelings, fae, fair folk, fay, hidden people, little folk, Seelie, Sidhe, Tuatha Dé Danann, Unseelie, Wee Folk, and many other names) are magical beings spoken of in folklore, myths, and legends across Europe. The strongest origin of fairies is within Celtic and Germanic folklore which most often people identify as fairies in literature, cinema, and other media. Other nationalities and cultures have their own versions of fairies such as the Aziza of Africa, Mogwai of China, Yōkai and Yōsei of Japan, and Zână of the Roman Empire.

Fairies are often known for their magical abilities (especially illusions), ancient and immortal, emotional and sometimes moody, often immature and playful, vindictive, and lovers or haters of creativity and beauty.

Fairies and Fairy Tales are often associated with each other with overlap from Beast Fables and Folklore. Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Aesop’s Fables mix and match between children’s stories, beast fables, and fairies from folklore often to portray some moral, religious, or political message. Today, most fantasy literature, cinema, and games depend upon fairies as part of their fictional world and aesthetic.

There are those who believe fairies do exist and impact the world around us. The misplaced keys were hidden by an upset house brownie, the tractor that won’t start is because a gremlin has gummed up the engine, and the fairy rings we see in grassy fields are gateways to the hidden world of the fairies.

Most Common Fairies?

Throughout European folklore and fiction are many definitions of what is and is not a fairy. Though some in this list may be argued to be more monsters or myths, most readers would tend to agree these are common types of fairies.

  • Banshee
  • Boggart
  • Brownie
  • Dwarf
  • Elf
  • Faun
  • Giant
  • Gnome
  • Goblin
  • Gremlin
  • Hobgoblin
  • Leprechaun
  • Mermaid
  • Nymph
  • Pixie
  • Selkie
  • Siren
  • Sprite
  • Sylph
  • Troll
  • Will o’ the Wisp

Following are sources of information pertaining to Fairies to assist prospective game masters, game designers, writers, and storytellers in knowing where to start their research.



Dealing with Victorian Fairies
By Susina, Jan
Source: Children’s Literature, 28, no. 1 (2000): 230-237

Fairies, mermaids, mothers, and princesses: Sexual difference and gender roles in peter pan
By H.E., Shipley
Source: Studies in Gender and Sexuality, v13 n2 (2012 04 01): 145-159

The Fantastic Imagination
By MacDonald, George
Source: Introduction from The Light Princess and other Fairy Tales, also reprinted in a Dish of Orts

Ghosts, Fairies, Elves, and Nymphs: Towards a Semantic Template for Non-Human Being Concepts
By Habib, Sandy
Source: Australian Journal of Linguistics, v31 n4 (December 2011): 411-443

Greek Legends about Fairies and Related Tales of Magic
By Angelopoulos, Anna
Source: Fabula, 51, no. 3-4 (2010): 217-224

Logic of Fairies
By Rak, Michele
Source: ROMANIC REVIEW, 99, no. 3/4, (2008): 297-316

On Fairy-Stories
By Tolkien, J.R.R.
Source: The Tolkien Reader

Why Do People Believe in Gods? And Ghosts, Angels, Demons, Fairies, Goblins, and Other Imagined Conspiracies?
By Bakker, Gary M
Source: Skeptical inquirer, 39, no. 1, (2015): 38-43



Artemis Fowl
By Colfer, Eoin

The Chronicles of Narnia
By Lewis, C.S.

The Coming of the Fairies
By Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan

By James, King

The Dresden Files: Summer Knight
By Butcher, Jim

An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, & Other Supernatural Creatures
By Briggs, Katharine

The Faerie Queene
By Spenser, Edmund

Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry
By Yeats, W.B.

Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries: The Classic Study of Leprechauns, Pixies, and Other Fairy Spirits
By Evans-Wentz, Walter

Farmer Giles of Ham
By Tolkien, J.R.R.

Flower Fairies of the Summer
By Barker, Cicely Mary

The Goblin Companion: A Field Guide to Goblins
By Froud, Brian and Jones, Terry

A History of Irish Fairies
By White, Carolyn

The Hobbit
By Tolkien, J.R.R.

Fairy Mythology
By Keightley, Thomas

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies
By Franklin, Anna

King of Elfland’s Daughter
By Lord Dunsany

Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book
By Jones, Terry

Le Morte d’Arthur
By Malory, Sir Thomas

Liber de Nymphis, sylphis, pygmaeis et salamandris et de caeteris spiritibus
By Paracelsus

The Lilac Fairy Book
By Lang, Andrew

The Light Princess and other Fairy Tales
By MacDonald, George

The Little White Bird
By Barrie, J.M.

The Lord of the Rings
By Tolkien, J.R.R.

A Midsummer’s Night Dream
By Shakespeare, William

By Drayton, Michale

Peter and Wendy
By Barrie, J.M.

Puck of Pook’s Hill 
By Kipling, Rudyard

The Princess and the Goblin
By MacDonald George

The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies
By Kirk, Robert

Seeing Fairies: From the Lost Archives of the Fairy Investigation Society, Authentic Reports of Fairies in Modern Times
By Johnson, Marjorie

The Spiderwick Chronicles
By Black, Holly and DiTerlizzi, Tony

Tales of Pixie Hollow
By Thorpe, Kiki and Driscoll, Laura (and more)

Troublesome Things: a history of fairies and fairy stories
By Purkiss, Diane

The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves, and Other Little People 
By Keightley, Thomas



Adventures in Middle Earth – RPG
Changeling: The Dreaming – RPG
Deliria – RPG
The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game – Tabletop Game
Dresden Files RPG – RPG
ElfQuest – RPG
Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! – Tabletop Game
Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: The Board Game – Tabletop Game
The Legend of Zelda – Computer Game
Once Upon A Time – Tabletop Game
The One Ring – RPG
Shadowrun – RPG
Small World – Tabletop Game
Smash Up – Tabletop Game
Terra Mystica – Tabletop Game
Touhou Project – Computer Game
Warcraft – Computer Game
Warhammer – Tabletop Game
World of Warcraft – Computer Game



The 10th Kingdom
Ah! My Goddess: The Movie
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Darby O’Gill and the Little People
The Fairies – TV Show
FairyTale: A True Story
Grimm – TV Show
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Into the Woods
Jack the Giant Killer
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Mirror, Mirror
The NeverEnding Story
Once Upon A Time – TV Show
Pan’s Labyrinth
Peter Pan
Pixie Hollow
Rise of the Guardians
The Secret of Roan Inish
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 
Tinker Bell
Winx Club – Cartoon



Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor

The Fairy Museum – California

The National Leprechaun Museum



Brothers Grimm
J.M. Barrie
Tony DiTerlizzi
Thomas Keightley
George MacDonald
C.S. Lewis
J.R.R. Tolkien

I hope you find these resources informative and inspiring for your adventures, storytelling, or game design.

Stay Creative!

T.R. Knight

( If you would like to save this list of resources as a convenient PDF for later reference, you can find that HERE )


He is a freelance editor, proofreader, and writer in the game industry. He is also a Husband and Caregiver to his wife Angie, Father of Twins Emily and Rachel, Foodie and Hobby Chef, and Director of Academic Technology/Associate CIO at Taylor University. You can learn more about T.R. at his blog

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