Like this enraptured small boy with his playthings and study cast aside, the Victorians revelled in a story which fired the imagination. Here, following the boy’s transfixed gaze and his mother’s uplifted arm, they would have been elevated into the realms of fantasy. There is no evidence that the painting’s title, ‘The Fairy Tale’, was the title chosen by the artist. The subject seems to be a comparison between nature, to which the woman points, and art, represented by the book (or sketch book) that she holds. The flowers in the basket and the boy’s ball and bow may refer to the outside world rather than to the world of books.