It’s a testament to the growing interest in folklore as both an area of academic study and a topic worth further investigation by the general public that the National Trust would commission a collection of folklore. Written by #FolkloreThursday‘s own Dee Dee Chainey, A Treasury of British Folklore: Maypoles, Mandrakes and Mistletoe collects lore from the length and breadth of Britain.
It’s no easy task, either. Chapters are devoted to subjects like love and marriage, or death and burial. Elsewhere, we enjoy the lore of trees, tales of giants, and even ghost stories. Divided into three sections (Of the Land, Plants and Animals; Witchcraft, Magic and Heroic Tales; and The Milestones of Life), A Treasury of British Folklore acts as a primer for a huge range of sub-categories of folklore.
You can learn about everything from Arthurian legends to Harvest festivals – and everything in between! Most counties show good representation from Northumberland to Cornwall. Both Wales and Scotland enjoy plenty of entries. Chainey includes a helpful ‘calendar’ at the back. This helps you discover where these celebrations and rituals actually happen around Britain throughout the year.
A Treasury of British Folklore: Maypoles, Mandrakes and Mistletoe is a great beginner’s book.
It’s not a comprehensive text in that much of the lore is condensed to hit the book’s word count. I don’t envy Chainey’s task. She did well to cover so many bases in one volume with just 40,000 words to play with.
That said, she does cover a huge range of superstitions, sayings and beliefs and she should be applauded for doing so. The range involved does make it mind-bogglingly comprehensive, so it depends on your goals!
A Treasury of British Folklore offers two real advantages for would-be folklorists and fanatics alike. On one hand, it provides you with a springboard of ideas to pursue in your studies. Collecting lore together by theme makes it easy to spot what most interests you.
On the other hand, the suggested reading at the back gives you a great list of resources. Continue your studies in whatever direction best suits you, starting with these titles.
For whatever reason you choose this book, it’s an easy and enjoyable read. Its striking illustrations work well with the text, making this a beautiful addition to your bookshelf.
Click here to buy the book from Amazon (aff link)
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