The Druid and the Maiden


General Description

Date: 1856
Genre: Short story


◦ Houghton, The Wellesley Index , pp. 723-731.

◦ Mackail, J. W. Life of William Morris.

Scholarly Commentary

Guest Editor: PC Fleming


This is one of several pieces in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine for which the author is uncertain. The Wellesley Index attributes it to Burne-Jones, with the caveat that Mackail’s manuscript notes attribute it to “a professional writer got in by Fulford” (731). Both conclusions prove problematic. Burne-Jones had written in August that neither he nor Morris would write for the magazine again (Mackail, 108). Morris continued to contribute, but if this piece is in fact by Burne-Jones, it is the only submission after he made that statement. It also is markedly different from Burne-Jones’s other stories in the magazine, The Cousins and The Story of the North, in both style and theme.

Attributing this piece to a professional writer brought in by Fulford, however, has its own problems. Certainly Fulford was having trouble getting the other members of the Brotherhood to contribyte, but all other entries are by writers associated in some way with either Oxford or Cambridge. It would be surprising for Fulford to hire an outside contributor for one piece.

The use of cliches (“high and dry” p. 679, “nipped in the bud” p. 682) and uncomfortably alliterative sentences (“cried a cowardly cowherd”, p. 686) would seem out of place in a professional writer’s work, but also in the work of any of the members of the brotherhood.

Whoever wrote this piece was familiar with the general themes of the other stories in the Magazine. The frame story is a young man visiting France, who spends the night in a haunted cave, and dreams that he meets a Druid, who tells him a story about the Roman invasion under Caesar. The dream motif and the historical setting are tropes shared by nearly all of the stories in the Magazine.

Printing History

First printed in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine , November, 1856.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1