Fairies and fairy tales continue to intrigue both academic and popular audiences. This article, while exploring the diverse approaches of recent scholars in this field, also raises disciplinary questions. Should the study of folklore and of the literary fairy tale be seen as separate research areas, one the preserve of the cultural historian and folklorist, the other the remit of the literary scholar? Can we even make a clear distinction in the nineteenth century between authored, literary fairy tales and orally collected supernatural folktales? If it is reductive to assume that the fairy tale can always be classified (and potentially dismissed) as children's literature, how might recent trends in Victorian studies suggest new ways of seeing and teaching the genre? Discussing the fairy tale in the context of debates over orality and authenticity, literature and science, all of these questions will be examined below.