Our thanks to Prof. Nikolajeva as she retires from our Advisory Board

Prof. Maria Nikolajeva has retired from our Advisory Board and all other academic activities. We are very grateful for her work with us, and wish her a long and happy retirement.

Maria Nikolajeva was Professor of Education at Homerton College and Head of the Research and Teaching Centre for Children’s Literature, University of Cambridge. Prior to that, she was a Professor of comparative literature at Stockholm University, Sweden, where she taught children’s literature and critical theory for twenty five years. She received the International Grimm Award for lifetime achievements in children’s literature research. In 1993-97 she was the President of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature. Her recent publications include How Picturebooks Work, co-authored with Carole Scott (2001), From Mythic to Linear: Time in Children’s Literature (2002), The Rhetoric of Character in Children’s Literature (2002), Aesthetic Approaches to Children’s Literature (2005), Beyond Babar: European Children’s Literature (2006), co-edited with Sandra Beckett, and Power, Voice and Subjectivity in Literature for Young People (2009). She was also one of the senior editors for The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature.

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Colin Manlove, 1942-2020

Colin Manlove (4 May 1942 – 1 June 2020) was an Falkirk-born writer and literary critic with a particular interest in fantasy works. From not having read any fantasy literature before undertaking his postgraduate degree, Manlove became a pre-eminent scholar in the field of fantasy literature, publishing a number of important and seminal works.

Originally setting out to read science, Manlove then moved to history before settling on English. From there, Manlove undertook postgraduate work on the Edwardian writer E. Nesbit on the advice of Catherine Ing, his director of studies at Oxford. Unknown to Manlove before his studies, his work on Nesbit was transformative, leading to fantasy fiction by other authors and eventually his B.Litt on ‘The Fairy Tale: and its English Development, 1850-1960’ which included chapters on the traditional fairy tale, Charles Kingsley, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, Mervyn Peake, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Then, in Edinburgh, he was offered the opportunity to teach a course in the burgeoning field of ‘fantasy’. At the same time he began to transform his thesis into his magnum opus: Modern Fantasy: Five Studies (1975). This major book made a comprehensive study of Kingsley, MacDonald, Lewis, Tolkien and Peake at a time when fantasy literature was yet to emerge as a subject worthy of academic treatment. In it he proposed a definition of fantasy as:

A fiction evoking wonder and containing a substantial and irreducible element of supernatural or impossible worlds, beings or objects with which the mortal characters in the story or the readers become on at least partly familiar terms.

This definition of fantasy marked off the genre from fairy tales, science fiction, ‘Gothic’ and horror story, and he also distinguished between fantasies that are serious works of imagination and those that are fanciful or escapist. After this groundbreaking work, he moved on to other literary topics including Shakespeare and literature from 1600 to 1800, as well as publishing Critical Thinking: A Guide to Interpreting Literary Texts (1989, 1994).

Manlove returned to fantasy following the publication of Rosemary Jackson’s Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion in 1981. Jackson focused on European subversive and revolutionary fantasy literature. It was Manlove’s impression was that Jackson regarded the likes of Tolkien, Lewis and MacDonald as shallow and sentimental Christian conservatives. This allowed Manlove to define two broad classes of fantasy – Anglo-Saxon, which Jackson condemned, and European. Later Manlove saw a further division in the characteristics of English and Scottish fantasy. This and other interests formed the basis of a number of significant works he would publish over the next twenty years. The Impulse of Fantasy Literature (1982), Christian Fantasy: From 1200 to the Present (1992), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Patterning of a Fantastic World (1993) and other works produced during this period were important contributions to the expanding discussion of Christian, English, Scottish and modern British fantasy.

Manlove realised that although fantasy is often seen as being the same the world over, it is in fact strongly national in character. In his Scottish Fantasy Literature: A Critical Survey (1994) and An Anthology of Scottish Fantasy Literature (1996), he looked at the supernatural traits of Scottish fantasies, and the traditional fairy tales, dream allegories, travels, other worlds and ghost stories of such writers as Robert Burns, James Macpherson, R.L. Stevenson, James Hogg, J.M. Barrie, Alasdair Gray, George Mackay Brown and Iain Banks. In The Fantasy Literature of England (1999), he traced the development of English fantasy from Beowulf to Blake, through secondary worlds, metaphysical, emotive, comic, subversive and children’s fantasy, to show that, even with authors as different as Chaucer, Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien and Salman Rushdie, Terry Pratchett, C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde and Angela Carter, this very diversity was part of the national character of English fantasy. Manlove then went on to survey 400 English children’s fantasies from 1850 to 2000 in From Alice to Harry Potter: Children’s Fantasy in England (2003). The theme of national identities within fantasy appeared again in his Order of Harry Potter: Literary Skill in the Hogwarts Epic (2010), which argued for the Harry Potter series ‘to be considered as Scottish books’ and identified ‘Harry’s dualism as characteristic of Scottish literature’.1

His most recent work focused on George MacDonald. He said that he felt he long owed a book to MacDonald for ‘the mysterious visions’ he let Manlove enter, and this became Scotland’s Forgotten Treasure: the Visionary Romances of George MacDonald (2016), arguing for ‘the long-overdue acknowledgement’ of MacDonald’s literary importance.2

Manlove taught English Literature at Edinburgh University until his retirement in 1993. He received an honorary D. Litt in recognition of his pioneering research publications. He was a member of the Chichester Centre for Fairy Tales, Speculative Fiction and Fantasy’s Editorial Board, and spoke at one of the Centre’s first conferences, ‘Mervyn Peake & the Fantasy Tradition’ (July 2011), along with Joanne Harris, Brian Sibley and Farah Mendlesohn. He and Prof. William Gray bonded over their shared Scottish heritage and love of fantasy literature, and Colin was very sad to hear of Bill’s death. Manlove’s death robs us of further work he planned to produce about fantasy literature, and his ambition to try to write for children will go unfulfilled. Literary criticism and fantasy literature owe him a great debt and those of us working on fantasy in its broadest sense are poorer for his passing. We are grateful for the opportunity to have known Colin Manlove and to have worked with him through the Centre.

  1. Reviewed by Dr Jane Carroll in Gramarye 3 (2013), 80-1.
  2. Reviewed by Dr Paul Quinn in Gramarye 17 (2020), 75-7.
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Call-out for reviewers

The Chichester Centre for Fairy Tales, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction is looking for volunteer reviewers for poetry and fiction submissions to Gramarye. Reviewers would only review as many pieces as they were comfortable with – from one to eight pieces of short fiction or poetry a year. To apply, please submit an outline of your relevant experience and skills as a short bio (100 words) or CV (1 page) to h.robbins@chi.ac.uk.

Approved reviewers will receive set criteria for their reviews, and in return we would of course be delighted to provide professional references for other job applications.

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Call for Submissions: Articles, creative writing, reviews and visual art relating to fairy tales, fantasy and speculative fiction

The Chichester Centre for Fairy Tales, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction seeks articles, book reviews and creative writing relating to literary and historical approaches to fairy tales, fantasy, Gothic, magic realism, science fiction and speculative fiction for Gramarye, its peer-reviewed journal published by the University of Chichester.

Word count guidelines:

  • Long (c.8,000 words) or short (c.3,000 words) articles. Word counts include referencing and citation.
  • Book reviews: c.1,000 words
  • Short fiction – max. 3000 words (one story or several).
  • Poetry – max. four poems to a total of no more than 4 pages/240 lines.
Long poems, traditional forms, flash fictions and experimental creative writing are all equally encouraged.

All written submissions must be sent as a single Word .doc or .rtf attachment to the editorial board via the Editorial Assistant Heather Robbins at h.robbins@chi.ac.uk.

We also invite submissions of original artwork (painting, illustration, photography, other digital media, etc), sent as colour image files, along with a brief (300 words max, artist’s statement). Images may be used as a feature section, or to complement critical and creative texts, as per the editors’ discretion.

The next deadline for submissions is 21 September 2020. If you would like to receive a complimentary e-book of the most recent issue to check content and style, please request one from assistant Heather Robbins (h.robbins@chi.ac.uk).

Submissions should be accompanied by a separate file with the title, a 100-word abstract and a brief (100 words) biographical note. Relevant colour image files, along with copyright permission, may also be supplied at this stage. Only original submissions that are not simultaneously under consideration by another journal will be considered. Unrevised student essays or theses cannot be considered. Submissions must include all quotations, endnotes, and the list of works cited. References should follow the Chicago Manual of Style.

For contributions that include any copyrighted materials, the author must secure written permission (specifying “non-exclusive world rights and electronic rights”) to reproduce them. The author must submit these written permissions with their final manuscript. Permission fees are the responsibility of the author.

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Gossip & Tales

The latest newsletter can be found on Issuu or downloaded as a pdf here.

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Call for Submissions: Articles, creative writing and reviews relating to the work of Prof. Bill Gray in folklore, fairy tales and the fantastic

The Chichester Centre for Fairy Tale, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction seeks articles, book reviews and creative writing relating to literary and historical approaches to folklore, fairy tales, fantasy, Gothic, magic realism, science fiction and speculative fiction for a special issue of Gramarye, its peer-reviewed journal published by the University of Chichester, celebrating the life of its founder Prof. Bill Gray (1952-2019). We are particularly interested in articles on fairy tales, fantasy literature and the work of C.S. Lewis, Robert Louis Stevenson, Philip Pullman, J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald and ETA Hoffman.

Word count guidelines:

Articles: c.5,000 words

Book reviews: c.1,000 words

Short fiction: max. 5000 words or six flash fictions (max. 1,000 words each)

Poetry: max. six poems to a total of no more than 6 pages/240 lines.

Long poems, traditional forms, flash fictions and experimental creative writing are all equally encouraged. All submissions must be sent as a single Word .doc or .rtf attachment to the editorial board via the Editorial Assistant Heather Robbins at h.robbins@chi.ac.uk. The next deadline for submissions is 21 September 2019. If you would like to receive a complimentary e-book of the most recent issue to check content and style, please request one from assistant Heather Robbins (h.robbins@chi.ac.uk).

Submissions should be accompanied by a separate file with the title, a 100-word abstract and a brief (100 words) biographical note. Relevant colour image files, along with copyright permission, may also be supplied at this stage. Only original articles that are not simultaneously under consideration by another journal will be considered. Unrevised student essays or theses cannot be considered. Submissions must include all quotations, endnotes, and the list of works cited. References should follow the Chicago Manual of Style.

For contributions that include any copyrighted materials, the author must secure written permission (specifying “non-exclusive world rights and electronic rights”) to reproduce them. The author must submit these written permissions with their final manuscript. Permission fees are the responsibility of the author.

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Call for Papers: The Fabled Coast

The Fabled Coast

Coastal and Maritime Folklore, Superstitions and Customs

Deadline 25th January 2019

Conference Saturday 27th April 2019

at the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tale and Fantasy, University of Chichester


For centuries, the unfathomable deep has been subject to all manner of speculative imaginings, from fantastical sea-monsters and hybrid creatures coveting mortal souls, to great underwater kingdoms and phantom islands. The coast as meeting point between the land and the sea is similarly host to an abundance of folktales: selkies casting off their sealskins, fairies abducting the unsuspecting from the shoreline, and whole communities cursed for exhausting their natural resources through hunting and fishing.

Taking its name from Sophia Kingshill’s and Jennifer Westwood’s seminal book The Fabled Coast, this conference will explore the abundance of folktales, legends, myths, songs and re-imaginings associated with coastal areas and maritime traditions and practices around the world.

Possible topics include but are not restricted to:

  • The collation, dissemination and migration of stories pertaining to the sea and shore
  • Early modern accounts of the sea, overseas exploration, etc.
  • The 19th-century boom in collecting coastal and maritime folklore
  • Aquatic entities and fantastical ocean zoology
  • Magical geography
  • Wonderous sea voyages
  • Sea-lore, customs and superstitions
  • Fact and fakery
  • Environmental and ecological cautionary tales, fishing, sealing and whaling in folklore
  • Modern and contemporary engagement with coastal and maritime folklore and myth, including literature, music, art, performance, design, cinema, television and cosplay.

Please send 200-word abstracts for 20-minute papers along with a brief biography of 50-100 words to VLESLIE1@stu.chi.ac.uk and H.Robbins@chi.ac.uk.


Keynote speaker: Sophia Kingshill

Folklorist, playwright and author, Sophia has written extensively on the coastal folklore of Britain, including The Fabled Coast: Legends and Traditions from around the Shores of Britain and Ireland, co-written with Jennifer Westwood (Random House), and Mermaids (Little Toller Books).

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Call for Submissions: Articles and reviews on Robert Holdstock’s writing

Robert Holdstock – a celebration of ‘Mythago Wood’

‘No other author has so successfully captured the magic of the wildwood’, Michael Moorcock

Call for Submissions: Articles and reviews on Robert Holdstock’s writing

With the tenth anniversary of Robert Holdstock’s death approaching, the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy seeks articles and reviews with a focus on the author’s Mythago Wood series for publication in Gramarye, its peer-reviewed journal published by the University of Chichester.

Neil Gaiman considers Mythago Wood to be a ‘classic of the literature of fantasy.’ In this spirit we are looking for scholarly and imaginative submissions that will once more take readers in to the heart of the British mythic landscape.

The deadline for this issue is 21 September 2018, and the Guest Editor will be Dr Steven O’Brien.


General Gramarye submissions information

Gramarye is an international, multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed academic journal examining folk narratives, fairy tales and fantasy works, both as independent genres and also in terms of the resonances and dissonances between them and other cultural forms.

There is no charge or fee for submitting an article or abstract.

Articles should be 5,000 – 7,000 words, book reviews c.1,000 words, and submitted as a Word .doc or .rtf attachment to the editor (Email: info@sussexfolktalecentre.org).

All submissions should be accompanied by a 100-word abstract and 100-word biographical note.

Relevant colour image files, along with copyright permission, must also be supplied by the deadline.

For contributions that include any copyrighted materials, the author must secure written permission (specifying “non-exclusive world rights and electronic rights”) to reproduce them. The author must submit these written permissions with their final manuscript. Permission fees are the responsibility of the author.

The deadlines are always 21 March for the summer issue and 21 September for the winter issue. If you would like to receive a complimentary e-book of the most recent issue to check content and style, please request one from assistant Heather Robbins (h.robbins@chi.ac.uk).

Only original articles that are not simultaneously under consideration by another journal will be considered. Unrevised student essays or theses cannot be considered.

Submissions must include all quotations, endnotes, and the list of works cited. References should follow the Chicago Manual of Style.

The copyright for a submission remains with the author at all times.


The peer-review process for Gramarye is as follows:

  1. The paper, edited to fit Gramarye’s house style, will first be sent to the editorial board to approve it for peer review if they find it to be original, interesting, and of value to Gramarye’s readers.
  2. One or two experts in the field of the paper will then be chosen as peer reviewers, in a double-blind process in which neither reviewer nor author identity will be made available to the other.
  3. The reviewers will ascertain the relative strengths and weaknesses of the paper, including but not limited to:
  4. a. whether it is properly referenced,

    b.whether any opinion or evidence is presented clearly and is relevant to the overall argument,

    c. and whether the language and purpose of the paper and its conclusion are clear and comprehensible.

    This takes one to two weeks.

  5. The reviewers’ comments will be returned to the editor, who will ensure the reviewers’ anonymity and return them to the author if any revisions are necessary.
  6. If the author resubmits their revised article to the editor after peer-review and some queries haven’t been addressed, the editorial board will make the final decision on whether the article should be returned to the author to address the remaining issues, or whether it should be published or discarded. The author will be informed about this decision as soon as possible.

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CfP – Lewis Carroll and George MacDonald: An Influential Friendship

‘Lewis Carroll and George MacDonald: An Influential Friendship’

Saturday, 1 September 2018

“While Dodgson, the … mathematician who hated inaccuracy, loved to question the very multiplication table’s veracity, my father, the poet, who hated any touch of irreverence, could laugh till tears ran at his friend’s ridicule of smug formalism and copy-book maxims.”

Greville MacDonald, George MacDonald and his Wife, 1924.


Call for Papers – deadline Friday 30 March 2018

The works of the Scottish author, poet and minister George MacDonald and the English polymath Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) have been among the strongest of influences on writers of fantasy for the past 150 years. The relationship between these two Victorians is both deep and fascinating and a close examination of that friendship reveals the significant influence they had on each other’s work.

This one-day symposium will examine the life and works of the two writers with particular reference to that friendship, which began in Hastings, and their interests in folklore, fairy tales and fantasy.

We invite proposals for 20-minute presentations on topics including, but not restricted to:

  • The authors’ shared views on folklore, fairy tales and fantasy
  • Overlapping themes and sources in their literature
  • Hastings / Sussex influences and connections
  • Lewis Carroll’s photographs of the MacDonald family
  • Connections and collaborations with other artists (Alexander Munro, Arthur Hughes, etc.)
  • The influence of both authors on other writers, e.g., C.S. Lewis, Tolkien.

  • Please submit an abstract of approximately 200 words, together with a biographical note (up to 100 words) by 30 March 2018 to info [at] sussexfolktalecentre [dot] org. We will respond to all submissions by Friday 30 April 2018.

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