Folklore & Mythology
Ghost Stories of London
For the American writer Edrick Thay, London is a magical place, steeped in history, stories and ghosts. He starts his survey of the city at the Holly Bush Inn in Hampstead, with its ghostly waitress - one of the book’s several mischievous spirits. There are also friendly ghosts, places rife with supernatural happenings, royal hauntings and the ghosts of murder victims - all of them bringing into the present the strange events and personalities of London’s past.
The Dark Side of Japan
Ancient Black Magic, Folklore, Ritual
Antony Cummins has delved into ancient Japanese documents and Victorian travellers’ accounts to unearth dozens of forgotten legends, folk tales, malevolent spells and superstitions, some of which have not previously been retold in English. With advice about ways to avoid demon foxes, recognize omens and curse enemies, this material gives a glimpse of the huge variety of customs and beliefs that were found in different parts of Japan in the centuries before Western influence took hold.
Knight of the Goddess
Gawain, nephew of King Arthur, was once the most important knight at Arthur’s Court, yet as the popularity of the Arthurian legend grew his character gradually evolved into a womanizing villain. This scholarly study by a leading Arthurian expert explores how this happened over many hundreds of years of British storytelling, and seeks to restore Gawain’s reputation. This American edition was previously published in the UK as Gawain: Knight of the Goddess.
Best Fairy Stories of the World
Beginning with Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, this anthology of over 60 stories draws on folk traditions around the world as well as the European tales of Perrault, the Brothers Grimm and Andersen, and from older lore and legend, such as Childe Rowland and The Tiger, the Brahman and the Jackal. This is a Collector's Library edition, beautifully bound in red linen, with gilt-edged pages and a silk marker.
Holy Grail and Holy Thorn
Glastonbury in the English Imagination
'The status of Glastonbury rests upon two contentious claims,' writes Richard Hayman - first, that Joseph of Arimathea founded the first Christian church at Glastonbury; and second, that the town is the final resting place of King Arthur. This illustrated exploration of the Glastonbury myth examines both legends in full and explores how their influence has been felt from medieval to modern times, including William Blake's Jerusalem and the town's role as the capital of New Age culture.
Pilgrims of the Mist
The Stories of Scotland's Travelling People
Singer, storyteller and author Sheila Stewart is one of the last in the line of Scotland's travelling people and these tales, gathered from her friends and family, are a tribute to a way of life that has now all but died out. There are stories of myth and magic, hauntings and sudden deaths, lovers and childbirths, and the hardships of a people often spurned as social outcasts.
Legends of the Caucasus
The Caucasus, that mountainous region that divides Europe from Asia, is home to a range of diverse peoples - Georgians, Abkhazis, Chechens, Ingush and many others - and boasts a rich and dynamic oral literature. This volume makes 100 myths, legends and proverbs available in English for the first time. Originating in 14 ethnic groups, they speak of hunting, cattle rustling, magic, clan warfare, revenge, and the eternal struggle against oppression.
The epic Ramayana ('The Travels of Rama') tells how Vishnu, incarnated as Rama, is sent into exile and his wife Sita is abducted by the Lord of the Underworld, until a monkey army helps him to win her back. The story's many variant versions span the cultures, religions and languages of Asia; Daljit Nagra's vibrant, energetic reworking draws on scenes from these traditions to create a new Ramayana for today's multicultural, multi-faith readers.
Legends of the Samurai
Looking beyond the image of the almost superhuman swordsmen promoted in modern film and literature, Hiroaki Sato confronts both the history and the legend of the samurai, untangling the two to present an authentic picture of these legendary warriors. Through his translations of original samurai tales, laws, dicta, reports and arguments, accompanied by insightful commentary, Sato chronicles the changing ethos of the Japanese warrior from the samurai's historical origins to his rise to political power in the 18th century.
Imagining the Pagan Past
Gods and Goddesses in Literature and History Since the Dark Ages
The importance of stories of Britain's pagan history - tales often discounted as historically dubious - is explored in this study of British pagan gods and goddesses in literature and historical writing since the Dark Ages.
Breaking the Spell
Stories of Magic and Mystery from Scotland
These tales of kelpies, selkies and witches, friendly giants and a baby monster are all based on Scottish legends and folklore, retold for children by Lari Don and illustrated by Cate James. At the end of the book there are 'notes from the author' on each of the ten stories. Age 5+
The Cat and the Birds
and Other Fables
VS Vernon Jones's translation of Aesop's fables, with striking black and white illustrations and silhouettes by Arthur Rackham, was originally published in 1912. Drawing on that earlier edition, this little book from the British Library presents more than 70 tales, including many lesser-known fables as well as favourites such as 'The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing' and 'The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse'.
The Conference of the Birds
Led by the Hoopoe, a conference of birds embarks on a perilous quest for the mountain of Kaf, where their king, Simorgh, lives. In this book, the award-winning Czech writer and illustrator Peter Sis retells the classic 12th-century Persian poem in his own inimitable style. His lyrical text and magical paintings bring to life this epic of love, pain, beauty and faith, in which the birds must jettison all they hold dear to find their true purpose.
A Brief Guide to Celtic Myths and Legends
The pre-Christian beliefs of Celtic communities from Brittany to Scotland gave birth to stories of gods and giants, fierce warriors, shape-shifting monsters and even severed heads that talk. Whittock introduces the reader to the world of this folklore, using evidence from Greek and Roman inscriptions, recent archaeological research into ancient Celtic culture and the versions of legends preserved both in medieval manuscripts and in oral traditions from different regions.
Grimm's Household Tales
This British Library edition of Mervyn Peake's illustrated Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm is based on the original edition published in 1946. Combining the comic and the sinister, Peake's drawings are a perfect match for stories such as The Nose-Tree, Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs and Rumpelstiltskin. Altogether there are 75 tales in this anthology, with an introduction by Sarah Waters and reproductions of the original colour illustrations.
The Greek Myths
Stories of the Greek Gods and Heroes Vividly Retold
Full of the magic of the gods and the emotions of mortals, the myths and legends of ancient Greece are meaningful tales that have survived and inspired writers and artists through millennia. The classicist Robin Waterfield presents a fresh retelling of the stories, from the creation of the gods of Olympus to the epics of the Trojan War and the travels of Odysseus, illustrated with images of over 120 of the myriad paintings and sculptures they have inspired.
Grimms' Fairy Tales
First published in Germany in 1812 the Household Tales, with learned footnotes and commentary, were not an overnight success. Over the years editions became less academic, there were less threatening, illustrated versions for children - and the book became one of the world's most enduring bestsellers. This English edition, first published in the early 1900s, has illustrations by Arthur Rackham, hand-coloured by Barbara Frith.
Serpents & Werewolves
Stories of Animal Shape-Shifters from Around the World
This elegantly written and accessible collection of 15 tales from around the world includes a girl whose stepmother transforms her into a dragon, a princess who makes a deal with the queen of snakes and a curious boy who becomes a wolf cub. Age 7+
Goblins and Ghosties
Stories of Darkness from Around the World
The 25 folk tales and fairy stories in this collection originate in locations as far apart as the Isle of Man, Colombia, Korea and New Zealand. They range in tone from the farcical to the magical and the spooky, and feature ghosts in the library, hungry trolls, a werewolf's bride, vampires, goblins and spirits. Age 8+
The Welsh of the Llyfr Coch Hergest
Lady Guest's translation of the ancient Welsh legends of the Red Book of Hergest and the Tale of Taliesin was the first appearance of the Mabinogion in English. This reprint is of the second (1877) edition and contains Lady Guest's original notes on the stories.
Understand Chinese Mythology
This Teach Yourself guide is the ideal introduction to Chinese myth, covering little-known symbolic stories as well as the familiar dragons and astrology that are well embedded in popular culture. The author begins by explaining the background to Chinese culture and mythology, then goes on to explore the myths, retelling them in modern English and teasing out their meanings and cultural significance.
Blind Ossian's Fingal
Fragments and Controversy
The poems of Ossian, Highland bard of the 3rd century, inspired the Romantic movement when they were 'rediscovered' and translated by James Macpherson in 1760. This volume is an introduction both to the poetry and to the continuing controversy about it: was it a hoax, entirely the work of Macpherson's imagination, or does it form part of a great Gaelic oral tradition? The texts of Fragments of Ancient Poetry and Fingal are reprinted here, together with contemporary and modern opinions. No jacket.
On the Trail of King Arthur: A Journey into Dark Age
Scotland including Illustrations, Maps and Itineraries
Drawing on early written records and archaeological evidence, Crichton provides a compelling account of Arthur as Celtic hero. Includes details of sites to visit along the King's journey southward.
All In! All In!
Children's traditional street-games play an important role in the folk culture of a country. The Dublin children's folklore gathered by Eilis Brady (1927-2007) is now part of the National Folklore Collection at University College, Dublin. A selection of the games and rhymes from that collection are presented here, with music where appropriate, photographs and a short introduction to the background language.
The Story of Siegfried
First published in New York in 1896, this is Baldwin's retelling of the story of Siegfried. Drawing materials from various versions of the northern sagas and from his own imagination, he presents the action-packed adventures of Siegfried and other mythical figures, including Aegir, Brunhild, Thor and Balder, in 20 tales from the ancient Eddas. Reprint.
An Encyclopaedia of Plants
In Myth, Legend, Magic and Lore
A horticulturalist fascinated by the common names of plants and what they tell of symbolic meanings and the role of plants in mythology and folklore, Stuart Phillips presents an engrossing compendium, arranged alphabetically from Fir (Abies) to Zinnia (Zinnia). The Encyclopaedia tells the stories and reveals the lore and medicinal uses behind names such as blackthorn’s ‘sloe’ and ‘wishing thorn’; while extensive appendices contain lists including the Language of Flowers, plants in dreams, and the Oghams’ Tree Alphabet. Plus a full index.
Trevor Beer's Country Folklore and Legend
Author and naturalist Trevor Beer is well known for his Nature Watch column in the Western Morning News. Drawing on his lifelong passion for wildlife and country lore and legend, this book features stories about the British countryside, from ancient Celtic beliefs and old recipes and curatives to animal behaviour. Illustrated by the author's own drawings, the book provides a charming source of reference for all those who love wildlife and the countryside.
The Midas Touch
World Mythology in Bite-Sized Chunks
The legends of Bai She Zhuan (China's White Snake Woman), the Mayan twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque, and Hine-Nui-Te-Po, the Maori goddess of death, join the more familiar creation myths and immortals of Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Norse myth in this concise introduction to the mythologies of nine cultures. For each one Daniels outlines the history of the civilization before briefly retelling a selection of its most important myths and legends.
The Last Days of Troy
Dramatizing ‘a mystery that has come to us in echoes and whispers from over three thousand years ago’, Armitage’s play follows on from the account of the Greeks’ wooden horse in Homer’s Odyssey to tell the story of the Trojan War to its bitter end. Set in present-day Hisarlik, the site of ancient Troy, with a cast of gods and mortals, the play explores an ancient conflict that rages to this day.
The Green Roads of England
Starting at the 'central gathering ground' at Avebury, Cox's guide covers all the ancient roads of England, following the Stone Age ridge roads of southern England, describing, with the help of maps, plans and illustrations, the hill forts and other earthworks found along them and discussing other aspects of neolithic civilization. Facsimile edition.
High History of the Holy Grail (1898)
In an epilogue to his translation, Evans declares this to be 'the original story of Sir Perceval and the Holy Graal, whole and incorrupt as it left the hands of its first author' and he commends it to all who love the Arthurian legends. The translation is of Potvin's 1866 edition of the anonymous 13th-century romance, Perceval le Gallois.
English Gypsy Language (1909)
Word-Book of the Romany
In addition to a dictionary of English Romany words, this book includes chapters on Gypsy names, fortune-telling, the London 'Gypsyries' in Wandsworth, Notting Hill and Friars' Mount, folk hero Ryley Bosvil and a collection of Gypsy songs. George Borrow (1803- 1881) was a great traveller and translator, whose works included novels, travel writing and pioneering translations of Romany.