The Rose and the Ring

TSS Maasdam

We took the TSS Maasdam home from Europe in the late fall of 1965. We encountered a terrible storm crossing the north Atlantic and a giant wave pushed the ship down onto its side while we were at dinner. All the adults screamed – everything and everyone fell amidst all the broken dishes and food and furniture – a nice waiter picked me up and carried me out of the chaos…
Also I had a passionate fight with a little Dutch girl who insisted there was no Santa, only Sinterklaas.

My family went to Europe on a long tour of art and cities in 1965 when I was 5 years old. My mother was afraid of flying so we crossed the Atlantic to and from Europe on an ocean liner. To entertain my sister and I, my mother brought along the book The Rose and the Ring by William Makepeace Thackeray first published in 1855 as one of Thackeray’s Christmas Stories.

frontpiece for the Rose and the Ring 1855

The story is a delightful fairy tale with a lot of humor in it about the long lost princess and subsequent Queen of Crim Tartery, the beautiful Rosalba, and her eventual discovery and marriage to the handsome Prince Giglio. The story has many funny characters including the First Lord of the Toothpick, the Marquis degli Spinachi, Prince Bulbo and Count Kutasoff Hedzoff.

All the illustrations were done by Thackeray himself and were so delightful I remember making my mother draw them over and over again on a pad of paper to amuse us while we were crossing the ocean and traipsing across Europe. (We also made her read the story over and over again to us too with all the different voices.)Prince Giglio hitting King Valoroso with the bed warming pan

The story runs 147 pages in my little book of Thackeray Christmas Stories published by Oxford University Press (frustratingly my little leather bound book has no date, but given the style of the forward and the binding, I suspect a late 19th century publication date.) As the author of the forward writes The Rose and the Ring  “… is unique and sublime.”Gruffanuff Rose Ring153

So I thought I would share this with you this Holiday Season with a small selection of the funny pictures.

And as Thackeray himself says on the last page of the story, “Merry Christmas Good My Friends”.



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