Fairy-Tale Files: Bizarre Homes & Gardens

Fairy-Tale Files, published once weekly, feature three variations of a fairy tale chosen by one of Fairy Tale Review’s editors, readers, editorial assistants, or contributors.


Fairy-Tale Files, published once weekly, feature three variations of a fairy tale chosen by one of Fairy Tale Review’s editors, readers, editorial assistants, or contributors.


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Speculation runs rampant when footwear is your address. Meet two contenders considered the real-life basis for the old woman who lived in a shoe:

  • 1660’s Bostonian Elizabeth Vergoose (purportedly you-know-who), a widow with 16 mouths to feed.

Some historians ponder the degree of influence Caroline wielded, re-lensing Parliament members as her children. Meanwhile, Lancastrians of the day held fast to the belief that the quickest shortcut to pregnancy was wearing a new mother’s shoes, which translates, perhaps, to why we lace anything from slippers to Sketchers to newlyweds’ trunks.

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For anyone who’s ever said “If only there was a spaceship house nestled in the American south,” have we got a deal for you! Built by Curtis King in 1972, this UFO with a birdfeeder and Windex-able portholes retailed around $250,000 upon completion, though it had depreciated to $120,000 by the time it was auctioned off in 2008. A prime piece of rental property, this Signal Mountain, Tennessee, domicile is not to be confused with Los Angeles’ Chemosphere House, currently owned by German super-publisher Benedikt Taschen, the dwelling’s 20-foot concrete pedestal having withstood 50-plus years of earthquakes.

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Topiary giving you guff? Keep its ego in check with a slideshow from the Lost Gardens of Heligan. These Cornwall botanicals have existed since the 16th century, having seen many advances in plant hybridization well before their languishment after World War I, when more than half of its 22-gardener workforce perished. The good news: innovation is unstoppable, as the gardens were “rediscovered” in 1990, all stripes of curators having added their unique touch in the ensuing years to produce such behemo- er, floramoths as Giant’s Head and the Mud Maid.


This edition of Fairy-Tale Files is brought to you by poetry editor Jon Riccio.