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

Read about MOTHER GOOSE’S FRENCH BIRTH (1697) AND BRITISH AFTERLIFE (1729)here

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The Centre’s latest newsletter

The Centre’s latest newsletter is available here

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Issue 3 of Gramarye out now

Issue 3 of Gramarye is now available to buy here

This issue’s contents include:

  • ‘Hans Christian Andersen: It’s Me The Story’s About’, Neil Philip

  • ‘The Well of D’yerree-in-Dowan’, Patrick Ryan

  • ‘Dragons of East and West’, Rosalind Kerven

  • ‘Death and a Pickled Onion’, Jakob Löfgren

  • ‘My Favourite Story When I was Young’, William Gray

  • A review of Sophia Kingshill and Jennifer Westwood’s The Fabled Coast, Jacqueline Simpson

  • A review of Peter Davies’ The Fairies Return, Or, New Tales for Old, Andrew Teverson

  • A review of Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales for Young and Old, Francisco Vaz da Silva

  • A review of Angela Carter and Decadence, Martine Hennard Dutheil de la Rochère

  • A review of Colin Manlove’s The Order of Harry Potter: Literary Skill in the Hogwarts Epic, Jane Carroll

Not to mention illustrations by Paul Kidby, Edmund Dulac, Edward Burne-Jones, Yvonne Gilbert, Constance Barnes and many more

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STEAMPUNK TALK CANCELLED

The talk on ‘Steampunk’ by Frauke Matz on Tuesday 5 March has had to be cancelled due to illness. We wish Frauke a speedy recovery.

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February/March 2013 Newsletter now online

The February/March 2013 Sussex Centre Newsletter is now online here

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Storytelling, storywriting, storyprinting: Telling tales and the origins of children’s books

Storytelling, storywriting, storyprinting: Telling tales and the origins of children’s books

  • Monday 11 March 2013 5.15 – 7 pm in the Mitre Lecture Theatre, Bishop Otter Campus, University of Chichester

  • Ruth Bottigheimer and Matthew Grenby, Professors at New York and Newcastle respectively, will share the platform at the first ever joint event to be co-hosted by the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy (SCFFF) and the South Coast Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Research Group (SCERRG).

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