Foxes In Children’s Literature

A fox is a wolf who sends flowers.

Ruth Weston

Arthur Applebee asked a group of pre-school children to tell him the characters of a list of animals. They were more certain of the stereotypical personalities of animals they could only have met in stories, such as brave lions or sly foxes, than of the characters of dogs or cats, where experience of specific dogs and cats came in to complicate the picture. Story characteristics are prepared for reception, so to speak; they’re consistent, they don’t contradict themselves, and they’re dispensed at the pace that understanding demands.

The Child That Books Built, Frances Spufford
Reynard the Fox by Wilhelm Von Kaulbach
Reynard the Fox by Wilhelm Von Kaulbach

During the Middle Ages, foxes were a widely recognised symbol for the devil.

from 'Slightly Foxed - but still desirable - Ronald Searle's wicked world of Book Collecting' Souvenir Press 1989 9
from ‘Slightly Foxed – but still desirable – Ronald Searle’s wicked world of Book Collecting’ Souvenir Press 1989
Lore Pemberton fox looking in window
Lore Pemberton
Person Dressed Up as a Fox, Johannes Hendrikus Antonius Maria Lutz, 1907 - 1916
Person Dressed Up as a Fox, Johannes Hendrikus Antonius Maria Lutz, 1907 – 1916
Donald Chaffin, Fantastic Mr. Fox, 1970
Donald Chaffin, Fantastic Mr. Fox, 1970
covergross
A chocolate wrapper from the Soviet Union
A chocolate wrapper from the Soviet Union
Charles Robinson (1870–1937) 1935 illustration The Fox and the Grapes for Aesop's Fables
Charles Robinson (1870–1937) 1935 illustration The Fox and the Grapes for Aesop’s Fables
The Handbook of British Mammals 1977 Cover art
The Handbook of British Mammals 1977 Cover art
Lennart Helje b.1940
Lennart Helje b.1940
a Silkscreen print by Tim Southall and titled ‘Winter Fox’
a Silkscreen print by Tim Southall and titled ‘Winter Fox’
from Vitaly Bianchi's Fox and the little mouse 1960 by Yuri Vasnezov
from Vitaly Bianchi’s Fox and the little mouse 1960 by Yuri Vasnezov
Robert Ayton 1961 fox train
Robert Ayton 1961
Heinrich Leutemann
Heinrich Leutemann
By Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)--Ill. Over Stock and Stone f. Hansel & Grethel & other tales, 1920 riding a fox
By Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)–Ill. Over Stock and Stone f. Hansel & Grethel & other tales, 1920
A shapeshifting fox (kitsune), sporting a lotus-leaf hat, 踊 る 狐 (1900s-1910s), by Ohara Koson (1878-1945)
Bulgarian Folk Tales illustrated by Rumen Skorchev

Header painting: Ebenezer Newman Downard – Winter Landscape with Fox and Hares