Written by William Morris in 1895, ‘Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair’ is a fantasy story based on the thirteenth-century tale of ‘Havelok the Dane’.
Christopher and Goldilind are based on the characters of Havelock and Goldborough from the original tale. Morris’s retelling is set in a densely wooded world called Oakenrealm and follows the romance of Christopher, the estranged heir to the throne, and Goldilind, a princess from another kingdom. Together they gather an army to challenge the usurper of the throne, Earl Rolf. The tale ends as Christopher defeats Rolf’s champion, Gandolf of Brimside, in single combat to reclaim his title as king.
Alongside Morris’s other fantasy stories of the 1890s, this book had a strong influence on later fantasy writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The story bears a strong resemblance to the plot of ‘Prince Caspian’, from Lewis’s ‘Chronicles of Narnia’. In this story Caspian has also been unrightfully usurped and builds forces to reclaim his throne, eventually electing a champion to fight for him in single combat. The name Gandolf, which Morris also uses for another character in ‘The Well at the World's End’, may have inspired Tolkien’s wizard Gandalf in ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
This Kelmscott Press book is the first of two volumes that made up Morris’s story. It is one of 600 copies printed on paper; an additional 12 copies were printed on vellum.