Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

A Fairy Went A-Marketing, a Singable Picture Book, a Singable Poem

Posted on: March 5, 2010

A Fairy Went A-Marketing
Poem by Rose Fyleman
Music by Various Artists
Illustrated by Jamichael Henterly
Musical Setting can be found by Ginger Sands on her collection “The Gift of Make Believe

Rose Fyleman (1877 – 1957), wrote “A Fairy Went A-Marketing” in 1918 and first published it in her collection of poems, “Fairies and Chimneys.”

Jamichael Henterly has created a beautiful butterfly-winged fairy and set her in gorgeous surroundings to illustrate this poem and bring it fancifully to life.  I thought only the girls would be interested in this Singable Picture Book, but boys seem to like it just the same.

It is a wonderful habit of this fairy to enjoy the beauty of nature and living creatures around her.  She acquires them, engages with them, and then lets them go to live their lives.  It’s a great message to children, to observe and participate in nature, but not to possess it.


Ginger Sands’ celtic inspired musical setting (complete with bodhran drum and whistles) of the poem on her CD “The Gift of Make Believe” provides the perfect musical setting and sing-along track.  Sands’ wonderful collection of children’s poetry set to music includes vocal and instrumental tracks for each poem.  The vocals for “A Fairy Went A-Marketing” are on Track 2.  The instrumental sing-along is found on Track 12.


The Gift of Make-Believe (Read and Sing Along Lyric Book)
Words by Various Artists
Tunes by Ginger Sands and Various Artists
Illustrations derived from published works of Various Artists

Hear musical clips or buy the tracks at many online music sellers, including Amazon:

“A Fairy Went A-Marketing,”  sung by Priscilla Herdman:

“A Fairy Went A-Marketing,”  by Maria Sangliolo:

Read an excellent biography, including a bibliography, of Rose Fyleman on the Poetry Foundation’s website:


I was interested to learn from the jacket flap of “Mary Middling and Other Silly Folk: Nursery Rhymes and Nonsense Poems” (an illustrated compilation of Rose Fyleman’s verse) that “It was Rose Fyleman who, as editor of the children’s magazine ‘The Merry-Go-Round,’ first encouraged A.A. Milne to write children’s verse.”

From the same jacket flap, it is interesting to note that Rose Fyleman, who was a prolific writer of verse and prose for children, did not start writing for children until she was 40 years old.


A Fairy Went A-Marketing
Poem Rose Fyleman
Music by Various Artists

A Fairy went a marketing-
She bought a little fish;
She put it a crystal bowl
Upon a golden dish.
An hour she sat in wonderment
And watched its silver gleam,
And then she gently took it up
And slipped it in a stream.

A fairy went a marketing-
She bought a colored bird;
It sang the sweetest, shrillest song
That ever she had heard.
She sat beside the painted cage
And listened half the day.
And then she opened wide the door
And let it fly away.

A fairy went a marketing-
She bought a winter gown
All stitched about with gossamer
And lined with thistledown.
She wore it all afternoon
With prancing and delight,
then gave it to a little frog
To keep him warm at night.

A fairy went a-marketing-
She bought a gentle mouse
To take her tiny messages,
and keep her tiny house.
All day she kept its busy feet
Pit-patting to and fro,
And then she kissed its silken ears,
Thanked it, and let it go.



“Sing Me a Story” is a wonderful organization that unites the creative talents of children in need and songwriters around the world.

For more information, visit their website:


Click the link below to see Pavithra’s drawing (a 13 year of child from India) of a fairy to accompany a verse from
Rose Fyleman’s poem “A Fairy Went a-Marketing,”

You can also hear the song it inspired “It Had to Be Magic” by Jamie Polen.

Addendum 8/16/2014

A cute, vintage, musical setting by Dame Clara Butt,

This I found on Pinterest.

Another setting, here:

Related Posts


An list of  singable poems from compilations of poetry for children

A list of individually illustrated poems that have been set to music and can be sung

Sing Me a Story, an organization uniting the creative talents of children in need and songwriters around the world

Of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of choices, this list onPinterest displays the top blockbuster favorite Singable Picture Books that we warble together at Sing Books visits:



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