These images owe a debt to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, in particular the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, whose work Burne-Jones was beginning to explore. The drawings for 'The Fairy Family' were all executed while Burne-Jones was matriculating at Exeter College, University of Oxford, as an undergraduate in divinity. He was neither studying nor in pursuit of a professional artistic career when these illustrations were undertaken.
This edition was owned by Sydney Cockerell, whose annotations are on the inside cover of this rare copy. His notes provide an insight into Burne-Jones's unease about this publication and its illustrations, which he never officially acknowledged. This was in spite of the large number of drawings that he produced for his friend, author Archibald Maclaren, beginning in 1854.