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  • Best Irish Fairy Books: The Twentieth Century January 15, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Best Irish Fairy Books: The Twentieth Century

    Yesterday we offered the best nineteenth-century writing on Irish fairies. Today the best of the twentieth century: 1911: In this year W. Y. Evans-Wentz changed fairy writing for ever by publishing his brilliantly bizarre The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries. Evans-Wentz offered a collection of fairylore for all the Celtic nations (Cornwall, Man, Scotland, Brittany, […]

    Best Irish Fairy Books: the Nineteenth Century January 14, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Best Irish Fairy Books: the Nineteenth Century

    So you have decided to become an expert on fairies. Your eyes wander over the map of western Europe and after some consideration of the different regional varieties you settle on Ireland: English fairies too pompous; Dutch fey MIA; Icelandic elves aloof; Scandinavian trolls stupid… But where do you begin? There follows a list of […]

    Fairy Vampires #1: Spence Speaks January 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy Vampires #1: Spence Speaks

    Vampire legends arrived in Britain and Ireland from the east of Europe in the eighteenth century and were, then, celebrated in fiction in the early, mid nineteenth century (The Vampyre, 1819 and Varney the Vampire, 1847). Two of the great popularisers of vampires in, what was then, the UK were, of course, Irish: the brilliant […]

    Fairy Armies: A Medical Explanation? January 5, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fairy Armies: A Medical Explanation?

    We have literally hundreds of British and Irish fairy sightings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and it is striking how often fairies are seen in battle garb: the fairy armies. Yes, there are important folklore traditions about fairies fighting each other: the hosts of Ulster against the host of Connaught, the host of Ireland […]

    Celia Alleyne: A Fairy Woman? December 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

    In 1920 the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research published a letter from Celia Alleyne. I like this letter because having been through tens of such cases from the twentieth century now this is (a) written by a person of above average intelligence and (b) average in terms of relations with the ‘fairies’ (or […]

    Creepy Christmas Fairy Tale December 21, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Creepy Christmas Fairy Tale

    Here is a remarkable fairy account from Newfoundland. We are in Canada and the report appeared in the Evening Telegraph 26 Dec 1900. This, then, is a creepy Christmas story. A resident of this city, who is subject to extraordinary hallucinations, was the other night, as he seriously states himself, ‘again carried off by fairies’. […]

    Fairy Wings: Bat, Bird or Insect? December 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Fairy Wings: Bat, Bird or Insect?

    Another fairy wings question thinking of the last two posts on the origins of fairy wings and on the production of fairy wings: what do fairy wings look like? Here Beach is going to start wide by looking at all winged flying supernatural creatures including angels, Cupid, putti (curse them), cherubs (curse them), Psyche and […]

    Making Fairy Wings December 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Making Fairy Wings

    After yesterday’s post on the origin of fairy wings, Beach now asks a parallel question. If from the later 19C children were wearing fairy wings at parties who actually made the damn things. Today there are special firms. What about in 1850 or 1890 or 27 October 1933. Here is a short article from that […]

    In Search of the Earliest Fairy Wings December 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Earliest Fairy Wings

    Next year Beach has to write an article on the history of fairy wings, something that he is greatly looking forward to: for absolute beginners fairies were not shown with wings until relatively recent times. There are three big historical questions: (i) when were fairies first portrayed in art or literature as wearing fairy wings; […]

    19C London Fairies and Murder November 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    19C London Fairies and Murder

    Beach has long considered himself duty bound to investigate all references to fairies, however strange and however obscene, and there have been, for a while, two references to London fairies that have irritated him because he can’t track them down: or at least he can follow them only into unattractive cul-de-sacs. First, from Carol Silver’s […]

    Wrecking Fairies November 3, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Wrecking Fairies

    This experience from early twentieth-century Canada combines an unlikely set of the criminal and paranormal elements: sailing, wrecking and fairies. We are in Labrador and Beach has previously referenced this source – the autobiography of a local doctor – in a sasquatch post. On one occasion, as late in the fall we were creeping  up […]

    A Canadian Fairy Hole (with Wigwam) October 21, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    A Canadian Fairy Hole (with Wigwam)

    The Fairy Hole on Cape Breton in Nova Scotia is a huge cave on a mountain side, some twenty yards across. There are several videos on youtube that give some sense of what it is like inside and immediately outside. Beach was interested by this site because Fairy Hole is a common placename in England, particularly […]

    Pook’s Hill and Kipling September 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Pook's Hill and Kipling

    There are two versions of the history of Pook’s Hill: the official version; and the official-official version. First, the official version. Kipling wrote in the Edwardian period a book for his children about English history: Puck of Pook’s Hill, published in 1906. A fairy, Puck, introduces Kipling’s two children to the marvelous wonders of the […]

    Wrong Time Bread, Wrong Place Fairies September 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Wrong Time Bread, Wrong Place Fairies

    Beach wants to introduce today a folklore custom that survived unexpectedly for three hundred years in the dark, before emerging to be briefly photographed by stunned folklorists at the end of the twentieth century. The tradition in question relates to bread. It was believed in south-west England in the 1600s that if you carried bread […]

    First Knocker Record from Wales August 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    First Knocker Record from Wales

    Knockers (aka knackers) were the tiny mine spirits described particularly in Cornwall and in Wales. They were sometimes said to be helpers, sometimes hinderers, and sometimes they warned of disasters in the pit. On this last point Beach links here to his description of a nineteenth-century mine disaster in Wales at Morfa. They arrived in […]

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