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  • H.F.Morton and Boggarts August 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback


    Beach has previously noted what an unusual field fairy studies is: for example, it is one of the few fields where amateurs outnumber and where amateurs are clearly better than academic writers. Another curiosity is the peculiar history of some of the fairy books out there and their tortured path to publication and beyond. There is, for example, Marjorie Johnson’s Fairy Vision, which took forty years to write and was finally published in German rather than English. Or there is Ismaël Mérindol and his Traité de Faërie, a text from the sixteenth-century destroyed in a flood in Prague in the Autumn of 2002: only the manuscript and the flood are a complete fantasy… Now we have another book to add to the list  H. F.Morton, All About Boggarts. This work was published by the Skewbalk Press in York in 1993 and was probably vanity printed: i.e. interested parties paid for publication. Certainly the publication run was of a mere five hundred copies and if you don’t have a copy yet, then you are going to have serious problems. Sorry! The book contains eights chapters about Lancashire boggarts that were written in the 1950s by H.F.Morton for one Gabrielle M.Cook, then a little girl: think Alice and Dodgson but with a nicer narrator. The stories are (i) well-written, (ii) amusing, and (iii) grounded in Lancashire folklore. As such they are a unique record of fairy belief in the north-west at a period when no one was bothering to write this material down. Gabrielle M. Cook – and if Gabrielle or a relative reads this we’d love to hear from you drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com – put the world generally and Lancashire particularly in their debt by printing the text a generation later. Who was H.F.Morton? Well, he was a talented Mancunian born in the late nineteenth-century (?). He worked first in the army and served his country in the Great War being badly injured at Galiopoli. In the 1930s he worked for Henry Ford, then he began to work in the late 1930s for De Havillands, retiring in 1958. Boggarts and engineering… Quite a combination. At his death in 1975 his papers were passed on to a nephew, who gave them to the Cheetham library in 1997. Perhaps there will be more boggarts there? We can but hope… A final bit of trivia, Morton had his secretary at De Havillands type up the stories that he read to Gabrielle! Must have made for a nice break from all the wrench specifications.