Gossip & Tales

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Puck of Pook’s Hill Art Competition

Part of Arthur Rackham in Sussex: A 150th Birthday Celebration

About the competition

The Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy will present an exhibition of Arthur Rackham’s works in Sussex for his 150th birthday at the National Trust’s Bateman’s House in September 2017 – and you can get involved too!

We are holding an art competition inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill, which Arthur Rackham illustrated in 1906 for the American edition.

If you want to take part, please download the text extract from Puck of Pook’s Hill here and create your artwork on A4 paper (portrait or landscape) based on that. Then send your artwork to:

Heather Robbins

Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy

University of Chichester

College Lane


West Sussex

PO19 6PE

Please include your name, age group and contact details. If you want your artwork returned, please also include an SAE.

Alternatively, e-mail a high-resolution image of your picture along with your name, age group and contact details to rackhamcomp@chi.ac.uk.

Prizes include complete sets of PanMacmillan’s Rudyard Kipling books for children, kindly donated by the Rudyard Kipling Society, and framed art prints of Arthur Rackham’s illustrations for Puck of Pook’s Hill kindly donated by Pook Press.

One winner will be selected from each of the following categories: entrants aged 5-10; entrants over 11-16; entrants aged 17+.

Please include your name, address and age category. The closing date for entries is Friday 21st July 2017.

Please download our full terms and conditions here, as by entering the competition you are deemed to have agreed to them.

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CfP: Arthur Rackham in Sussex on his 150th birthday

Deadline 31 March 2017

Symposium Saturday 16/9/2017

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

‘I can only say that I firmly believe in the greatest, stimulating and educative power of imaginative, fantastic, and playful pictures and writings for children in their most impressionable years.’

(Rackham, 1934)

19 September 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Arthur Rackham’s birth. A few days before, on 16 September 2017, the University of Chichester and the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy will host a one-day symposium devoted to Arthur Rackham’s extraordinary legacy. Arthur Rackham was one of the leading illustrators in Britain’s ‘golden age’ of illustration, producing over 3,300 individual book illustrations and decorations. He was at the forefront of new printing technologies, with his pen, ink and watercolour illustrations ideally suited for the new techniques of reproducing illustrations as photographic plates rather than engravings. What’s more, his iconic depictions of fairies, goblins, witches and anthropomorphic trees created an unsurpassed landscape of the fantastic, which influenced the likes of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. His illustrations for many of our best-loved fairy tales and fables have become definitive.

As well as being interested in Rackham’s contribution to imaginative literature, we are also interested in his connection with Sussex, especially his time spent at Houghton House in the 1920s. Rackham is also linked to Bateman’s, Rudyard Kipling’s home in Burwash, East Sussex, through his illustrations of Puck of Pook’s Hill, a tale Kipling based on the house and gardens. This one-day symposium will celebrate Rackham’s connection with Sussex as well as his international renown as a leading figure of fantasy illustration and children’s literature.

Possible topics include but are not restricted to:

  • Rackham’s life in Sussex

  • Rackham’s illustrations of Puck of Pook’s Hill and other work produced in or focused on Sussex and the surrounding area.

  • The artistic techniques employed by Rackham and the printing technology of the early 20th century

  • Rackham’s vision of fairyland, the construction of fantasy realms and his impact on fantasy illustration and children’s literature

  • The impact of war on Rackham’s work and reception

  • Rackham’s engagement with musical themes and depictions of musical tales, such as Wagner’s Ring series and Some British Ballads

  • Contemporary engagement with his work, Rackham’s echoes in the 21st century.

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

Deadline for submission of abstracts is 31 March 2017.

The conference will belong to a wider series of events organised by the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, including an exhibition of original Rackham works in collaboration with the National Trust at Bateman’s, as well as a series of creative, innovative and research-led responses by the Fine Art, Music and English and Creative Writing departments of the University of Chichester.

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Where do fairy tales begin? A new book from Prof. Bill Gray explores their origins.

World Treasure of Fairy Tales & Folklore

World Treasure of Fairy Tales & Folklore

The World Treasury of Fairy Tales and Folklore is a stunning collection of fairy tales from around the world, compiled by Prof. William Gray, founding director of the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy here at the University of Chichester and arranged in chronological order. Introductions and notes by fairy-tale experts Rose Williamson and Joanna Gilar help build a deeper understanding of beloved stories.

The collection is laid out into five sections. The first, Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Tales, contains stories from the earliest days of the genre which began to define the style of what we now consider to be fairy tales. The second section on Eighteenth-Century Tales contains tales which were authored or translated amidst a great wave of popularity for fairy tales and tales of wonder. On the heels of the authors such as Charles Perrault, Europe began to devour tales. The Arabian Nights helped to fulfil this need, offering tales of alien other lands, both magical and real.

Next, we explore Nineteenth-Century Folktale Collections, which peeks into the folktale fever that came over scholars during this era. The tales in this section showcase stories anthologised by collectors who sought to preserve them for the future as markers of regional and national folk culture. The Nineteenth-Century Literary Fairy Tales represent the simultaneous trend of fairy-tale authorship which happened alongside folktale collecting. Inspired by tale collections, writers such as Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde began to pen their own stories which took their place on the bookshelf next to the collections by the Grimms and Joseph Jacobs. Finally, the section on Twentieth-Century Folktale Collections returns to tales which have been, in some sense, maintained as collectors heard them. More of these folktales originated outside Europe, demonstrating a desire on the part of collectors and readers to hear global tales from all corners of the Earth.

This collection showcases a wide range of fairy tales, from the German Fitcher’s Bird to the Russian Firebird, from the Norwegian Three Billy Goats Gruff, England’s Jack and the Beanstalk, to the Arabian Aladdin, as well as less well-known folktales collected from Asia and the Americas, and from authors and collectors including the Brothers Grimm, Andrew Lang, Joseph Jacobs, Hans Christian Andersen, Oscar Wilde and Robert Louis Stevenson. Richly illustrated by Fausto Bianchi, this treasury of tales will be an essential addition to all family libraries.

Link: https://www.quartoknows.com/books/9781577151272/The-World-Treasury-of-Fairy-Tales-Folklore.html

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A graph of folktales in Sussex and the South Downs

The Sussex Centre’s map of folktales in Sussex and the South Downs has been converted into a graph.

A graph of folktales in Sussex and the South Downs

A graph of folktales in Sussex and the South Downs

Ghost stories are the most popular folktale across Sussex and the South Downs. Sunken bell stories make a close second, although this is partly because, around Alfoldean, one sunken bell story has been claimed by several surrounding villages.

The South Downs National Park is particularly full of ghosts and buried treasure, with witches and fairies following a close second.

The South Downs National Park had the most folktales, with 63 folk tales listed on the map, as well as 36 events marked on the folklore calendar, nine of which are still celebrated today. This may be because it is more rural than other areas of Hampshire and Sussex, so older superstitions and oral tales haven’t been lost through the more mobile populations found in urban areas.

The folktales are distributed very evenly between West Sussex (52) and East Sussex (51). East Sussex has a few more events on its folklore calendar (35), including nine that are still celebrated. Brighton, in particular, is a hotbed of folklore. West Sussex has 30 events on the folklore calendar, of which seven are still celebrated.

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June-July newsletter

All our newsletters are available on Issuu.com. Click on the Jun-Jul 2015 newsletter to find out about our upcoming events, links to videos of all the Wonderlands symposium panels, and a breakdown of statistics from our map of folklore.

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The Folklore Map of Sussex and the South Downs

UPDATE: The final version of the map can now be found at www.chi.ac.uk/folklore-map .

The Folklore Map of Sussex and the South Downs

Click on the above link to download a free interactive map (pdf) of folklore in Sussex and the South Downs. The map is based on Jacqueline Simpson’s ‘Folklore of Sussex‘.

Zoom in and click on the map icons to be taken to stories, and click on stories to be taken to their place on the map (they normally appear in the top left). NB: Please download the map and open in Acrobat as the hyperlinks do not seem to work as well in the browser.

If you know of any tales that are missing from the map, or if you know a different version of one, please do let us know at h.robbins@chi.ac.uk.

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Jack Zipes on the ‘rediscovered’ Schönwerth fairy tales

There has been considerable media attention given to the discovery of new folktales by German scholar Franz Xaver von Schönwerth. A selection of Schönwerth’s folktales has been published in German under the title of Prinz Roßwifl (‘Roßwifl’ is a local dialect word for scarab or dung beetle!). One example, ‘The Turnip Princess’, was recently republished in The Guardian. While great claims have been for the value of this new collection of tales, fairy-tale expert and Sussex Centre Advisory Board Member Professor Jack Zipes urges caution. In a piece he has generously sent to the Sussex Centre with permission to publish, Professor Zipes gives a caveat against overestimating the importance of von Schönwerth’s work.

Professor Bill Gray

Director, Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy

10th March 2012

Note on the 500 New Fairy Tales, by Jack Zipes

Franz Xaver von Schönwerth published three volumes of tales titled Aus der Oberpfalz — Sitten und Sagen in 1857, 1858, and 1859. The title in English is: From Oberpfalz — Customs and Legends. Oberpfalz is the northeast region of Bavaria, and Schönwerth, a historian, did an admirable job of combining long historical reports about customs in this region with legends, folk tales, anecdotes, fairy tales, etc. Schönwerth did not single out wonder folk tales or fairy tales in these three volumes.

In discussing Prinz Roßwifl, the new collection of Schönwerth’s folktales, with the journalist Victoria Sussens-Messerer, it appears that Erika Eichenseer, the editor of this volume, has culled the fairy tales or wonder folk tales from manuscripts that she found in some 30 odd boxes in Schönwerth’s archives. I have only read Schönwerth’s tales from the earlier three volumes, and they range from boring to good examples of Bavarian customs. Nothing to get excited about, just as there is nothing to get excited about in the more recent example provided in The Guardian. Thus far, I have yet to read the tales in Prinz Roßwifl, but I have ordered them and am looking forward to do this.

I am presently working on an anthology of 19th-century European folk tales, and there are literally fifty or sixty collections that are more interesting than Schönwerth’s early collection, Aus der Oberpfalz — Sitten und Sagen, one reason why Schönwerth’s tales have not been studied or collected in the twentieth century. On the other hand I can point to some brilliant German collections by Theodor Vernaleken, Johann Wilhelm Wolf, Ignaz and Joseph Zingerele, Heinrich Pröhle, Josef Haltrich, Christian Schneller, Karl Haupt, Hermann Knust, Carl and Theodor Colshorn, etc. etc. and even more brilliant French collections by François-Marie Luzel, Paul Sébillot, Emmanuel Cosquin, Jean-François Bladé, Henry Carnoy, etc. etc. that contain tales fastidiously recorded by these folklorists, who translated them from dialect versions. They also include raw dialect versions with their translations. You can also see this in my and Joseph Russo’s translation of Giuseppe Pitrè’s Sicilian tales, The Collected Sicilian Folk and Fairy Tales of Giuseppe Pitrè (2008). Pitrè’s tales are also raw like Schoenwerth’s, but more fascinating because his ear was better and he wrote them down in dialect. Indeed, we have not yet translated the best European folk-tale collections into English and given them their due recognition, and I would not put Schönwerth’s tales at the top of my list of collections that need more study. We must ask what the significance of Schönwerth’s collection is within the development of oral folk tales during the nineteenth century, and it is too early to do this, whereas some of the other collections are clearly important for understanding how and why the tales were disseminated.

There is also the question of artistic value. Many of the European folklorists like the Grimms, had a great artistic sensibility. The artistic power of the Grimms’ tales and other collections can be experienced when they are read aloud. I believe that the best folklorists always had to “translate” and “adapt” the tales they collected, and they did this while trying to remain true to the spoken word. So, you can praise Schönwerth’s “raw” tales, but those that I have read thus far lack an important element of artistic re-creation. To varying degrees, the best 19th-century European folklorists shaped the raw quality of the takes to make them more effective in print. They also provided notes and provided dialect versions side-by-side with their raw translated versions in high German, French, Italian, etc. The general public is not aware that Schönwerth’s work was just a drop in the bucket of folk-tale collecting in Europe during the nineteenth century. It may turn out that this drop may taste better than other collections. For the time being, it is important to be cautious before we celebrate Schönwerth’s fairy tales and make more out of his work than he himself did.

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Tom Shippey to speak on ‘The American Fantasy Tradition’

The American Fantasy Tradition

Tuesday 25 February, Cloisters University of Chichester 5.15 – 6.30pm: Prof Tom Shippey, leading expert on Tolkien and modern fantasy (The Road to Middle-earth, J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century and The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories)

Tolkien made fantasy mass-market in the 1960s. By doing so he consigned a pre-existing fantasy tradition in the USA, not to oblivion, but to the fringes. Fans know about its great authors – Leiber, de Camp, Anderson, Davidson, Vance – but the wider world of films and TV series has passed them by. This is our loss, for the American tradition was and is distinctive, imaginative, and above all funny. This talk will survey it, and make recommendations for unfamiliar but entertaining reading.

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Talking of Grimm Girls: An illustrated talk

An illustrated talk by Dr Anne Anderson, Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Chichester, in conversation with Professor Bill Gray, Director of the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy. Hear how the gallery’s exhibition Grimm Girls: Picturing the ‘Princess’ came about, the themes within it and gain some insights into Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Wednesday 22 January 2014, 12.30pm-1.30pm. Otter Gallery, University of Chichester Free of charge but please book in advance – email galleryevents@chi.ac.uk or tel. 01243 816098.

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Sussex Centre assistant during Heather Robbins’s maternity leave

I am delighted to announce that the Sussex Centre assistant during Heather Robbins’s maternity leave will be Kathryn Seal. I am grateful to all the applicants for their interest in the Sussex Centre post, and especially to the six short-listed candidates for making themselves available for interview.

Human Resources and I rigorously checked each applicant against the job criteria and scored each of them. This outcome says less about the quality of the unsuccessful candidates than it does about the number and strength of the field of applicants. I was astounded to have so many highly qualified applicants for a temporary, part-time post.

Since she was a student in English & Creative Writing at the University of Chichester some years ago, Kathryn has had a very successful career in Marketing and Event Management, and has achieved some significant successes in capturing funding. These are skills which will be very helpful to the Sussex Centre in the coming months. I look forward to working with her.

Bill Gray, Director, Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy

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Grimm Girls: Picturing the ‘Princess’

Grimm Girls: Picturing the ‘Princess’

Exhibition, Otter Gallery, 23 November 2013 – 26 January 2014

This exhibition will feature the illustrations of six familiar and much-loved fairy-tales – ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Snow White’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Rapunzel’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – by Grimm, Perrault and other authors. As well as framed pictures, there will also be first edition books and other artefacts of various illustrators, among them Arthur Rackham, Charles Robinson, Mervyn Peake and Mabel Lucie Attwell. ‘Grimm Girls: Picturing the “Princess”’ is curated by Dr Anne Anderson, a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Chichester, in association with the University’s Department of English & Creative Writing and the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy.

One-day Symposium of leading fantasy and fairy-tale experts Monday 25 November 2013 Kindly sponsored by Scrivener.

Session 1, E124 (4 – 5.30 p.m.), £5/£3 concessions

Maria Nikolajeva, ‘“Iron is stronger than grief, but love is stronger than iron”: Reading fairy-tale emotions through words and illustrations.’

Terri Windling, ‘Into the Woods: One Writer-and-Artist’s Journey into Fairy Tales’.

Session 2, Mitre lecture theatre, (5.45 – 7.30 p.m.), £5/£3 concessions

Jack Zipes, ‘Reinvigorating the Fairy Tale: Radical Visions and Feminist Interpretations in Paintings, Sculptures, and Photography’.

Followed by round-table discussion with all three speakers.

Tickets available from the University’s online store. For more information e-mail scfffevents@chi.ac.uk.

About our sponsor: Scrivener is a content-generation tool that enables users to outline and structure ideas, take notes, view research alongside writing and compose the constituent pieces of a text in isolation or in context. Visit http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php for more information.

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Assistant for Sussex Centre sought

Assistant for The Sussex Centre

Fixed Term Contract (Maternity Cover – up to 6 months) Variable hours, averaging 11 hours per week

Fuller details available on Chichester University website under ‘Jobs’

Whilst situated in Sussex, the Centre brings together writers and scholars from around the globe and is seeking to appoint an administrator with Conference management experience.

The assistant’s role is crucial in helping to maintain an environment for scholarly activity (regional, national and international), including international conferences/symposia, exhibitions, public lectures and seminars. In addition the post holder will maintain (in collaboration with the Director) the Centre’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages, and will assist in the production of the Sussex Centre Newsletter (every two months) and its twice yearly journal Gramarye.

An experienced administrator, with an interest in the subject area, you will ideally have previous experience of event administration, and ideally editing and publishing expertise, in an academic context. Well-developed written and interpersonal skills will be supported by the ability to utilise IT effectively. A flexible approach to working hours will be required during the fixed term contract to meet the changing demands of the project.

Informal enquiries are welcomed by: Professor William Gray, Director of the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, on 01243 816208, or email: B.Gray@chi.ac.uk

Closing date: 15 September 2013 Interview date: TBC

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Mother Goose’s British Afterlife


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The Centre’s latest newsletter

The Centre’s latest newsletter is available here

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