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A Dictionary Of Fairies
Katharine Mary Briggs
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A Dictionary Of Fairies

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  672 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Perhaps she should have called it "Everything You Wanted to Know about Fairies, but Were Afraid to Ask." This book covers every type of "little people" from abbey lubbers to Young Tam Lin. Not just the tiny, translucent winged pixies of popular art, but brownies, goblins and bogies, even larger creatures like dragons and mermaids. Exhaustive in its coverage, while still en ...more
Hardcover, 481 pages
Published 1976 by Viking
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Maggie Stiefvater
THE definitive place to start on British fairy folklore. Is there anything else to say? I think not. An amazing read.

***wondering why all my reviews are five stars? Because I'm only reviewing my favorite books -- not every book I read. Consider a novel's presence on my Goodreads bookshelf as a hearty endorsement. I can't believe I just said "hearty." It sounds like a stew.****
Mike (the Paladin)
This is a wonderful book and if you have any use for a reference book on fairies, folklore etc. then again...wonderful. If you write (as a lot of us here do) this is a treasure trove of information. If I could I'd but a copy.

Unfortunately it's out of print and the least expensive copy I've been able to find is $100 (plus shipping and handling of course). I'll just have to keep my eyes open.

An interesting side note. In the edition I got out the library the illustration pages in the center of the
A wonderful compendium of the folkloric inhabitants of the British Isles.

In addition to entries about the Little People, there are also entries on certain folkloric motifs, such as Shapeshifting and Captives in Fairyland, and on prominent collectors of tales and writers upon the subject.

As well as the usual index and bibliography, the book also has an Index of Types and Motifs, by which folklore tales have been categorised, thus making it easy to compare similarities between stories which someti
Eric Orchard
The best source for fairies and strange creatures in literature and popular stories. Incredibly readable and bottomless inspiration.
This is the only reference book I ever read cover to cover. I'm just saying: THIS IS THE ONLY REFERENCE BOOK I'VE READ COVER TO COVER!!!
Pippa DaCosta
I bought this as a 'one-click' second hand purchase, with no notion I was buying something with a soul. The pages are yellowed, and well-thumbed, and I noticed this edition was printed in the same year I was born. That evocative smell of 'old books' hits me when I flick from front to back. How many hands have held this book? How many stories were born from its pages? This book has its own story to tell, and it's not inside, but in the tangible, the weight, the smell. Like its contents, this book ...more
Aug 15, 2014 Emma marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Known in the UK as The Dictionary of Fairies, published by Penguin.
Fraser Sherman
Folklore expert Briggs converts her research into a handy guide to British fae: spriggans, daione sidhe, kelpies, knockers, nuckelavee and others, all recorded here. This also covers themes (fairy thefts, virtues valued by fairies), a number of classic folk tales and profiles several prominent folklorists. If this is your sort of thing, you can't go wrong with this one.
It is good, but it focuses almost exclusively on the fairies of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. So while I love how in depth it is, the deepness of the research is focused on a relatively narrow subsection of folklore. A great resource, but only when you use it in a way that plays to the strengths of the book
Am absolutely loving this folk-lore compendium. (I will say that a few of the entries that have more to do with faeries abroad than UK faeries I've noticed aren't quite right, but the ones that are more solidly UK-based are great). What fun reading! Wish I had this when I was younger and gobbling up all things fae and fairy.
Probably not a great idea to read straight through, given that it is an encyclopedia, and doing so took me forever and lead to a lot of dull passages, but it seems like a pretty good reference work, particularly since it covers folk fairy beliefs, tales and their tellers and collectors, rather than focusing on only one aspect of (mostly British) fairy tradition.

It's out of print now though, so apparently its publisher and/or the book market doesn't think quite so highly of it.
James T Kelly
If you have ever wanted to know anything about fairy folklore, this is the book to read. Briggs leaves no stone unturned, categorising even the most minor fairy, as well as tackling large concepts, other related folklore and literature too. The encyclopedic nature means you can return to it again and again, but if you have any interest in fairies at all I'd be willing to bet you'll read it cover to cover. I did! This book has been absolutely indispensable and one of my best purchases.
Laurel Norton
I've had this book since high's my "go to" reference on all the words for "magical" beings, especially those residing on the British Isles. Fantastic folklore, and the histories of the beliefs. I have always love this book!
I read this book as a kid and have kept a copy for reference ever since. It's invaluable for anyone interested in folklore, covering a vast range of entities from gentle to malevolent, from beneficial to deadly.
The primer for supernatural creatures.
A great starting place for all things faerie. Just in case you're getting lost in the yelling matches/debates in class over the faerie realms.
A spectacular starting point for those interested in fairy tales and the origins of folklore. Like others have said, this is one of the only reference books I've read every single page of.
Briggs provides anecdotes as well as descriptions of the immense variety of fairies and other mythological characters. Good reference book if you write fantasy or play RPGs.
Kalayna Price
The encyclopedic structure offers only tidbits for each folklore creature and custom listed, but it is a great starting point and the bibliography is invaluable.
John Shelley
This is the most complete reference work on British fairy lore, from a giant of 20th Century folklore research. Essential reading.
Alison Whittington
It's easy to get lost in this book. I use it regularly for inspiration for my fairy tale maps.
As i believed, a must have in your collection if you can get it
Jacqueline Czel
Excellent reference book for fantasy writers!
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Early Life
Katharine Briggs was born in Hampstead, London in 1898, and was the eldest of three sisters. The Briggs family, originally from Yorkshire, had built up a fortune in the 18th and 19th centuries through coal mining and owned a large colliery in Normanton, West Yorkshire. With such enormous wealth, Katharine and her family were able to live in luxury with little need to work. Briggs's fathe
More about Katharine Mary Briggs...
The Fairies in Tradition and Literature The Vanishing People: Fairy Lore and Legends Abbey Lubbers, Banshees, & Boggarts: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies British Folk Tales and Legends: A Sampler Hobberdy Dick

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