Katharine Briggs: Story-teller

By H.R. Ellis Davidson

The first biography of this gifted storyteller who made a unique contribution to the collection and study of fairy tales and folk traditions in England.

ISBN: 9780718826598


Katharine Briggs made an indelible mark on the world of folklore with her compilation of the Dictionary of British Folktales in the English Languages. Her subsequent Dictionary of Fairies confirmed her already distinguished place among British Folklorists.

It was at Oxford University that she developed her interest in seventeenth century literature and the Civil War. Between leaving Oxford and the outbreak of the Second World War she channelled amateur dramatics and work for the Guide Movement. During the War she served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and it was here, perhaps, that her personality fully matured. Among other activities she delighted here fellows with her remarkable gift for story-telling.

Her career as a folklorist began to blossom in Oxford after the war. As if to make up for lost time, she spent the last twenty years of her life writing and lecturing almost continually. She is known not only for her books on folklore, but also her children’s books Kate Crackernuts and Hobberdy Dick. She was responsible for revitalising the Folklore Society and as its President, she laid the foundations of the Society as it is today.

Hilda Davidson’s biography brings to life a remarkable woman who made friends all over the world.

Additional information

Dimensions 216 × 138 mm
Pages 160

Trade Information LGEN

About the Author

Hilda R. Ellis Davidson, MA, PhD (Cantab.), is a former President of the Folklore Society. She has published a number of books, including many on Norse and Anglo-Saxon mythology. Dr Davidson was a Lecturer and formerly Vice-President of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She is the general editor of Mistletoe Books, published by the Folklore Society.


List of Illustrations
List of Tables

1. Yorkshire Heritage: The Family Background
2. An Artist’s Daughter: Parents and Childhood
3. Growing Up and Making Out: The Imaginary World of the Briggs Sisters
4. Feats and Quests: The War Years
5. Search for the Hidden People: The Barn House, Burford
6. Tales and Traditions: Work in Folklore
7. Golden Harvest: The Last Years

1. Her Account of Her Career
2. An Artist’s Daughter
3. Eric Notes
4. Selected Poems
1. A Handsome Sailor Came to Woo Me
2. If You Eat of Fairy Fruit
3. I Met a Fairy on the Hill
4. I Waked or Slept, I Knew nor Which
5. The Sun Shines Warm upon My Limbs
6. Triolet: What a Lively Piece of Clay
7. Occupied Territory
8. Elspeth

Chapter Notes
Published Work