"Fantasy, our subject and my preoccupation, comes from and appeals to the unconcious. It draws all its images from that dark wonderland, through the mysterious catalyst of the creative imagination. Nobody has ever described this process better than the great librarian, Lillian H. Smith, in her book The Unreluctant Years. 'Creative imagination,' she said, 'is more than mere invention. It is that power that creates, out of abstractions, life. It goes to the heart of the unseen, and puts that which is so mysteriously hidden from ordinary mortals into the clear light of their understanding, or at least of their partial understanding. It is more true, perhaps, of writers of fantasy than of any other writers except poets that they struggle with the inexpressible. According to their varying capacities, they are able to evoke ideas and clothe them in symbol, allegory, and dream.' " - Susan Cooper (Dreams and Wishes)
"I always felt and still feel that fairy tales have an emotional truth that is so deep that there are few things that really rival them." - Alice Hoffman
"Fantasy is not antirational, but pararational; not realistic but surrealistic, a heightening of reality. In Freud's terminology, it employs primary not secondary process thinking. It employs archetypes which, as Jung warned us, are dangerous things. Fantasy is nearer to poetry, to mysticism, and to insanity than naturalistic fiction is. It is a wilderness, and those who go there should not feel too safe.” - Ursula K. Le Guin (The Language of the Night)
The beautiful artwork in this post is by the Golden Age illustrator Florence Harrison (1878-1955).
Florence Susan Harrison was born in Brisbane, Australia, but spent much of her childhood at sea (her father was a sea caption) and at a great-aunt's school in England. It's not known where (or if) Harrison formally studied art, but she established a very successful career as an illustrator for the Blackie and Son publishing house (Glasgow and London) from 1905 onward. She is known to have lived in Belgium and London, continually working and publishing throughout the disruptive years of World Wars I and II. (Like so many women of the World War I generation, she never married.) A deep friendship with the Irish Catholic writer Enid Maud Dinnis, whose tales she illustrated, was a formative influence on her life and work; and Harrison stopped publishing artwork altogether after Dinnis' death.
In art catalogs and across the Internet today, Harrison's illustrations are often erroneously attributed to an earlier artist: the Victorian painter Emma Florence Harrison (born in Gloucestershire, England in 1858), whose work was exhibited at the Royal Academy in the late 19th century. I have no idea what Emma Harrison's art was like, as the illustrations widely credited to her now are actually Florence Harrison's. (The confusion stems from Emma Harrison's middle name.) My hope is that a biography of Florence Susan Harrison will be published one day so that we can learn more about this remarkable woman.
To see other works by women artists from the Pre-Raphaelite, Art Nouveau and Golden Age years, I recommend Women Illustrators of the Golden Age by Mary Carolyn Waldrep.