Celtic Fairy Tales and More Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs
Illustrated by John D. Batten
Publisher: Senate (Random House)
Pages: 552 (Paperback)
Form: Short Stories
Passed down through the centuries by generations of story-tellers Celtic folk tales have all the magic, excitement, humour and romance that any audience could wish for.
This collection combines two volumes of Celtic tales first chosen a hundred years ago by Joseph Jacobs, an authority on the folklore of the world. Determined to find the most authentic versions of local stories, he included only those which had been related by speakers of Scottish and Irish Gaelic, Welsh and Cornish. Now rewritten to appeal to the widest possible audience, they offer a wide-ranging cross-section of Celtic culture, from the Irish tragedy of Deidre to the Scottish ghost story of the Sprightly Tailor. Their variety is charmingly captured in the different styles of John Batten’s black-and-white illustrations.
A welcome reflection of the true heritage of Britain and Ireland, this delightful collection of forty-six tales will bring hours of pleasure to readers of all ages.
I actually read these stories in two different editions. I started with the Collector’s Library edition of Jacobs’ Celtic Fairy Tales before realising that they had cut all Jacob’s original annotations and end-notes. Purely by chance I then I discovered this rather dusty copy hiding in the spare bedroom, spotted that it had all those end-notes and also contained Jacob’s follow up More Celtic Fairy Tales, and did a bit of a book swap. The Collector’s Library edition is undoubtedly the more attractive book – this one is pretty old, has awkward page numbering that starts over again at 1 halfway through, and that annoying thing where illustrations are followed up by a blank page even in the middle of a story – but for me having access to Jacob’s notes on each story was more valuable than how pretty the book was. Sometimes in fact those notes were more interesting, and in several cases rather longer, than the stories they were about – though I didn’t always agree with some of his comments. Probably not something that matters to a lot of readers, but if you’re interested in the provenance of the fairy tales it’s def worth checking out if the edition you pick up contains these end-notes or not.