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The fairytales many of us grew up with are filled with overwhelming darkness. A little girl is swallowed up by a wolf, three bears have their house burgled, children are abandoned in the woods by their parents.
These tales are told, and retold to children across generations, who become so familiar with them that they barely blink at the horror. Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel cease to be just stories, and become the foundation on which others are built. They have the clear binary of good, and evil, cowardice and courageousness, modesty and hubris, all just waiting to be transformed into something new.
This year’s London Literature Festival 2019 is delving deep into the world of fairytales for its theme ‘Once Upon Our Times’, exploring how they travel from oral folklore, to children’s books to contemporary fiction. Ahead of the festival’s launch, we asked eight of its participating authors and poets one simple question: What’s your favourite fairytale?
Southbank Centre’s London Literature Festival runs from Thu Oct 17-Oct 27. Find events and ticket details here.
Illustrator: Luke Waller