The Book of the Toad: A Natural and Magical History of Toad-Human Relations

By Robert DeGraaff

A fascinating exploration of the toad, establishing the scientific facts and investigating its role in art, literature and folklore.

ISBN: 9780718828417


This comprehensive and entertaining compendium of toad lore surveys the history of the toad as biological entity, literary and artistic subject, mythological symbol, and threatened species. It brings to light a number of unexpected details regarding the life of the toad, ranging from its role as insect eater in gardens and pharmaceutical ingredient in shamanic hallucinogens, to its time honoured place in witchcraft and its apotheosis in stars as the constellation Bufo.

Robert DeGraaff’s offbeat history is exhaustively researched, scientifically precise, graced with high colour art reproductions and illustrations, and written with uncommon wit and humour. Far more than a volume for bufophiles, this is a uniquely insightful and engaging look at how humans through the ages have responded to and have been influenced by their amphibian neighbours.

Additional information

Dimensions 279 × 216 mm
Pages 192
Illustrations b&w and colour

Trade Information LGEN

About the Author

Robert DeGraaff has been a professor of Victorian literature at St Lawrence University for more than twenty years. He is also an accomplished limericist and the tiller of a 5,000 square foot vegetable garden, in which he communes whenever possible with Bufo americanus, the American toad.



Part I: A Natural History
Toad or Frog
Toad Evolution
Toad Music & Mating
Toad Navigation
Toad the Hunter
Toad the Hunted

Part II: Toad-Human Relations
The Pharmaceutical Toad
Bufotenine, Shamanism, & Toad the Earth Mother
The Oriental Toad
The Evil Medieval Toad
Toads & Witchcraft
Queen Elizabeth & the Frog/Toad Prince
Toad Folk & Fairy Tales
The Enduring Toad
The Toads Among Children
Read Toads in Real Gardens
The Toad Today

Appendix A: The Great Toad Hunt, by Howard McCord
Appendix B: Le Crapaud, by Victor Hugo

Endorsements and Reviews

With the aid of beautiful illustrations, the mixed fortunes of the toad in its multifarious roles throughout different ages and cultures are meticulously researched to make absorbing reading … at once an act of homage and voluptuous scholarship.
The Countryman