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The Watkins Book of English Folktales by Neil Philip
A gloriously eclectic collection of English Folktales this is a true gem and belongs on the bookshelf of all story lovers. From anecdotes to sagas this book has the lot.
This is a reprint of a book firs published in 1992 by Neil Philip. This edition has a not only a beautiful new cover but the benefit of hindsight and new knowledge. With this knowledge Philp has updated the introduction with his latest thoughts on the subject of story and story collecting.
Neil Gaimen joins this edition with a wonderful little forward that nods to the part the original edition of this book played in his love of folktale and story.
The book holds more that 100 tales and it splits them up handily into motifs which fit into the Aarne Thompson Uther (ATU) fairytale index. This is extremely useful if you are a storyteller looking for a particular tale or a student of story and lore, studying a particular motif. If you are reading for pleasure this index acts as a bit of extra info, which you can take or leave, but may help you understand where the tale fits in the web of stories to be found in this book.
As well as an ATU the origin of the story and in some cases who it was told by and to is included. Again invaluable information for storytellers and story lovers alike. Armed with this knowledge we may find more stories from these tellers and collectors.
If I am going to criticise this book in any way it would be that in a few cases the stories have been transcribed in such a way that it is extremely difficult to decipher the text due to the phonetic spellings and colloquialisms used in order to accurately record the voice of the teller at the time. This adds a certain charm to some of the stories but there were a couple that I found simply unreadable and will perhaps require a closer look at some point and some deep concentraton to work out the story.
Overall this is a wonderful collection of folktales which I would heartily reccommend to all story lovers.
You can buy Neil Philip’s ‘The Watkins Book of English Folktales,’ in all good bookshops. If you would like to buy a copy please consider visiting my page on Bookshop.org where I earn a small commission for book recommendations. Here you will find a plethora of myth, legend and folktale. Just use the button below to visit.
Don’t forget to support your local library too and see if they have a copy to borrow.