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Verbal Sources


This is the first of two seminars which discuss the sources available to the historian of folklore. In this seminar we look at verbal sources including folk tales, legends, oral history, and songs.

Seminar Question

What are the advantages and disadvantages of folk tales, oral history, and songs as sources for the historian of folklore in the British Isles?

Required Reading

Briggs, Katharine M., British Folk Tales and Legends: A Sampler (London, 1977), Introduction.

Evans, George Ewart, Where Beards Wag All: The Relevance of the Oral Tradition (London, 1970), Introduction.

Roud, Steve, Folk Song in England (London, 2017), Chapter 1.

Further Reading

Bendix, Regina F., and Galit Hasan-Rokem, eds, A Companion to Folklore (Malden, MA, 2012)

Boyes, Georgina, The Imagined Village: Culture, Ideology and the English Folk Revival (Leeds, 2010)

Brand, John, Observations on Popular Antiquities: Chiefly Illustrating the Origin of our Vulgar Customs, Ceremonies and Superstitions, ed. Henry Ellis, 2 vols (London, 1813), Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

Briggs, Katharine M., A Dictionary of British Folk-tales in the English Language, 2 vols in 4 (London, 1970-1971)

Campbell, J. F., Popular Tales of the West Highlands, 4 vols (Edinburgh, 1860-1862)

Carrassi, Vito, The Irish Fairy Tale: A Narrative Tradition from the Middle Ages to Yeats and Stephens, trans. Kevin Wren (Lanham, MD, 2012)

Covington, Sarah, 'Towards a New "Folkloric Turn" in the Literature of Early Modern Ireland', Literature Compass 15 (2018)

Davies, Sioned, ed. and trans., The Mabinogion (Oxford, 2008)

Dillion, Jacqueline, Thomas Hardy: Folklore and Resistance (London, 2016)

Evans, George Ewart, and David Thomson, The Leaping Hare (London, 1972)

Evans, George Ewart, Ask the Fellows who Cut the Hay (London, 1962)

Evans, George Ewart, Horse Power and Magic (London, 1979)

Evans, George Ewart, The Crooked Scythe (London, 1993)

Evans, George Ewart, The Farm and the Village (London, 1975)

Evans, George Ewart, The Horse in the Furrow (London, 1960)

Firor, Ruth A., Folkways in Thomas Hardy (Philadelphia, PA,1931)

Gammon, Vic, 'Song, Sex, and Society in England, 1600-1850', Folk Music Journal 4: 3 (1982), 208-245

Glassie, Henry, ed., Irish Folktales (New York, 1985)

Haase, Donald, ed., The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales, 3 vols (Westport, Conn., 2008)

Jarvie, Gordon, ed., Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales from Burns to Buchan (Harmondsworth, 2008)

Kinney, Phyllis, Welsh Traditional Music (Cardiff, 2011)

Koch, John T., ed., The Celtic Heroic Age: Literary Sources for Ancient Celtic Europe and Early Ireland and Wales, in collaboration with John Carey, 4th ed. (Aberystwyth, 2003)

Markey, Anne, 'The Discovery of Irish Folklore', New Hibernia Review 10: 4 (2006), 21-43

Morrison, Sophia, Manx Fairy Tales (London, 1911)

Muir, Kenneth, 'Folklore and Shakespeare', Folklore 92/2 (1981), 231-240

Newton, Michael, ed., Victorian Fairy Tales (Oxford, 2015)

Ó hAllmhuráin, Gearóid, A Short History of Irish Traditional Music (Dublin, 2017)

Opie, Iona, and Peter Opie, eds, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, 2nd ed (Oxford, 1997)

Opie, Iona, 'The Making of Folklore Books: Chiefly the Experiences of the Revd. John Brand and the Opies', Folklore 100:1 (1989), 53-62

Owen, Elias, Welsh Folk-Lore: A Collection of the Folk-Tales and Legends of North Wales (Oswestry and Wrexham, 1887)

Owens, Susan, The Ghost: A Cultural History (London, 2017)

Rhys, John, Celtic Folklore, Welsh and Manx, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1901), Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

Roud, Steve, and Julia Bishop, eds, The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs (Harmondsworth, 2014)

Thiselton-Dyer, T. F., The Folk-Lore of Shakespeare (New York, 1884)

Vallely, Fintan, ed., The Companion to Irish Traditional Music, 2nd. ed., (Cork, 2011)

Walsham, Alexandra, 'Recording Superstition in Early Modern Britain: The Origins of Folklore', Past & Present 199, supplement 3 (2008), 178–206

Warner, Marina, Once Upon A Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale (Oxford, 2016)

Wood, Juliette, 'Folk Narrative Research in Wales at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century: The Influence of John Rhŷs (1840-1916)', Folklore 116:3 (2005), 325-341,

Wood, Juliette, 'Perceptions of the Past in Welsh Folklore Studies', Folklore 108:1-2, (1997), 93-102

Wood, Peter, 'John Barleycorn: The Evolution of a Folk-Song Family', Folk Music Journal 8: 4 (2004), 438-455

Young, Rob, Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music (London, 2011)

Zipes, Jack, ed., The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales (Oxford, 2000)

Zipes, Jack, The Irresistible Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre (Princeton, N.J., 2012)


See here

The beginning of The Dream of Macsen Wledig in The White Book of Rhydderch. National Library of Wales, Peniarth MS 4.

The beginning of The Dream of Macsen Wledig from The Mabinogion in The White Book of Rhydderch. National Library of Wales, Peniarth MS 4.