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Why The Bear Has No Tail

And other Russian Folk Tales

Collected and illustrated for children of all ages by Elena Polenova.

Original translation by Netta Peacock.

Edited by Louise Hardiman

Towards the end of the 19th century, the English art journalist Netta Peacock travelled to Russia where she met Elena Polenova, the artist and younger sister of the famous artist Vasily Polenov. As one of her artistic projects, Elena collected the traditional folk tales she heard from peasants in local villages, and also illustrated them

The two women became great friends, and Netta asked if she could translate the tales, to publish them in England. Elena gave her twelve watercolour paintings, as well as a cover design painted on an exercise book. By 1916 Netta had finally prepared everything for publication, calling the book ‘Folk Tales of Great Russia’ and appointing McBride, Nast & Co as publishers. However, although the original manuscript and a number of engravers’ proofs have survived, for reasons unknown it was never published.

A few years ago, thanks to the research of Louise Hardiman, a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge, the original illustrations and stories were rediscovered in the Oxfordshire home of Netta Peacock’s descendants. Now, almost 100 years later, they are finally being published in a beautifully designed children’s book edited by Hardiman in collaboration with Fontanka.

Free entry, but space is limited, so secure your place by emailing