Contract signed: Suffolk Fairylore

The Green Children of Woolpit on Woolpit’s village sign. © Dogmarton Photography

I have just signed a contract with Lasse Press for a new book entitled Suffolk Fairylore, which will be the first extended study of folklore concerning the fairies in Suffolk (and indeed the first dedicated study of an English county’s fairylore). The book challenges the persistent myth that East Anglia has scant fairy-related folklore and offers a chronological account of the development of fairy belief in Suffolk, from the late Roman period to the present day. Chapters deal with the origins of fairy belief, fairies in medieval Suffolk, the apparent absence of fairies in early modern Suffolk, and nineteenth-century fairy belief as recorded by folklorists. An epilogue deals with twentieth-century and contemporary claims of fairy encounters.

Suffolk boasts some of the most important medieval narratives of encounters with otherworldly beings, including the stories of the Green Children of Woolpit, the Wild Man of Orford and Malekin, the disembodied spirit of a child stolen by the fairies who appeared at Dagworth in the reign of Richard I. Suffolk is also the home of one of the most significant English fairytales collected in the nineteenth century, ‘Tom Tit Tot’, which is the best-known English version of the international ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ folktale. Fairy encounters have been consistently reported in Suffolk since the Middle Ages, right up to the present day, and the book traces the ways in which perceptions of fairies have changed dramatically over the centuries. The book includes appendices containing the full text of Suffolk’s famous medieval fairy narratives in both Latin and English, as well as a gazetteer of the county’s fairy places and the full text of the fairytales recorded by folklorists in Suffolk in the nineteenth century.

Suffolk Fairylore opens up a hitherto obscure facet of the county’s folklore and shows that Suffolk has some of the richest folklore of fairies of any county in southern England. The book will be published later in 2018.

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