Useful Onions

Useful Onions

To quote that folklore-plagued Shakespearian Scottish monarch, this list is not the be-all and end-all. Below are just some of the sources that have inspired me, helped me and fascinated me along the way. The first tranche is a small selection of general folklore, tradition and myth goodness I’ve come across, the second contains specific references I’ve used to inform The Everyday Lore Project. I’ll be adding more sources as the project continues, and feel free to add your own suggestions and recommendations in the comments below (my list is woefully lacking in podcasts, blogs, and folk songs and music). For personal thank yous, see Thank Yous.

General Sources

Younger Fiction
  • The Farthest-Away Mountain – Lynne Reid Banks, my absolute touchstone growing up
  • The Owl Service, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Elidor – anything by Alan Garner
  • The Chronicles of Prydain – Lloyd Alexander (DO NOT watch the Disney adaptation of The Black Cauldron. Read the books!)
  • Which Witch?, The Secret of Platform 13 – again, anything by Eva Ibbotson
  • A Necklace of Raindrops, The Kingdom Under the Sea – Joan Aiken and Jan Pieńkowski
  • The Old Kingdom series – Garth Nix
  • The Goose Girl – Shannon Hale
  • Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
  • Haroun and the Sea of Stories – Salman Rushdie
  • Revolting Rhymes – Roald Dahl
Older Fiction
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  • Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
  • IT – Stephen King
  • The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter
  • Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman (and lots of others)
  • The Cure for Death by Lightning – Gail Anderson-Dargatz
  • The Riftwar Saga – Raymond E Feist
  • Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
  • Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch
  • The Golden Ass – Apuleius
  • The Golden Pot – ETA Hoffman
  • The Golem and the Djinni – Helene Wecker
  • Metamorphoses – Ovid
Non Fiction
  • From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers – Marina Warner (and lots more)
  • The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Myths to Live By – Joseph Campbell
  • Classical Mythology – Mark Morford, Robert Lenardon and Michael Sham
  • Morphology of the Folktale – V. Propp
  • The Uses of Enchantment, the Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales – Bruno Bettelheim
  • Fairytale in the Ancient World – Graham Anderson
  • Gossip From the Forest – Sara Maitland
  • The Fabled Coast – Sophia Kingshill & Jennifer Westwood
  • The People Of The Sea: Celtic Tales of the Seal-Folk – David Thomson
  • The Pillowman – Martin McDonagh
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Winter’s Tale, As You Like It, The Tempest etc etc etc – William Shakespeare
  • Peter Pan and Wendy – JM Barrie
  • Purgatory – WB Yeats
  • Into the Woods – Stephen Sondheim
  • Pilgrim – Sebastian Baczkiewicz, BBC
  • ElvenQuest – Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto, BBC
  • Robin of Sherwood, ITV, 1984 to 1986 (my love for Michael Praed will never die)
  • Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, ITV, 1987 to 1988
  • Tales of the Unexpected, ITV, 1979 to 1988
  • Knightmare, ITV, 1987 to 1994
  • Merlin, BBC, 2008 to 2012
  • Doctor Who, BBC, 1963 to 1989, 2005 to present
  • Once Upon a Time, ABC Studios, 2001 to 2018
  • The Twilight Zone, Cayuga Productions, Inc, 1959 to 1964
  • The X Files, Fox, 1993 to 2018
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mutant Enemy Productions, 1997 to 2003
  • Labyrinth, dir Jim Henson, 1986
  • The Raven, dir Roger Corman, 1963
  • Ever After, dir Andy Tennant, 1998
  • Excalibur, dir John Boorman, 1981
  • Willow, dir Ron Howard, 1998
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show, dir Jim Sharman, 1975
  • Ladyhawke, dir Richard Donner, 1985
  • Penelope, dir Mark Palansky, 2007
  • Spirited Away, dir Hayao Miyazaki, 2001
  • The Neverending Story, dir Wolfgang Peterson, 1984
  • The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke – Richard Dadd. My mum gave me her print after years of pestering. It’s still on my wall and I still see new things in it every time I look
  • Jan Pieńkowski who probably visually informed my childhood more than anyone else (except maybe Terence Fisher, but that’s another story)
  • Lotte Reiniger, an artist and animator who worked with silhouettes

The Everyday Lore Project Sources

The four most influential sources I’ve relied on so far to create my year are:

  • The English Year – Steve Roud. The English Year is “A month-by month guide to the Nation’s customs and festivals, from May Day to Mischief Night” and has been invaluable. I doubt there’s not much that Roud doesn’t know about folklore, so if you want somewhere to start, I’d recommend this book (and all of his others)
  • Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem, 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities – Quentin Cooper and Paul Sullivan. This book as been my saviour on many occasions. Something folkloric every day from ghosts to bearded ladies to pies to draw inspiration from. And laugh at.
  • Calendar Customs, A Guide to British Calendar Customs and Local Traditions website run by Averil Shepherd. Shepherd has spent the last nine years visiting every kind of calendar custom and tradition from tip to tale to provide information for anyone interested in joining in. She has even made a handy map so you can see what’s going on in your area. Again totally invaluable
  • Folklore Thursday – website and hashtag. Co-created by Dee Chainey and Willow Winsham in 2015, #FolkloreThursday has become its own calendar custom every Thursday on Twitter, bringing together people from across the world to post and discuss all types of folklore. Strangely enough, Thursday is my favourite day (see also The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)…

Other sources include (and will grow as the year progresses):

  • Culpeper’s Complete Herbal
  • Folklore, the Basics – Simon J. Bronner
  • A Short History of Myth – Karen Armstrong
  • The Book of English Magic – Philip Carr-Gomm & Richard Heygate
  • The Treasury of British Folklore, Maypoles, Mandrakes and Mistletoe – Dee Dee Chainey
  • Explore Folklore – Bob Trubshaw

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