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Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, & Other Supernatural Creatures

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,096 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
A "Who's Who" of fairyland, with entries by fairy name and additional legends, songs, and anecdotes within each entry.
Paperback, 453 pages
Published 1976 by Pantheon (first published January 1971)
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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 buy 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
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.****
Mary Catelli
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An exhaustive treatment of the -- ehem -- Good Folk of the British Isles.

A lot of redundancies because all sorts of creatures reappeared, slightly different, under different names, sometimes in very limited locales, or even the proper name of a single being. (Sometimes very slightly different names -- not necessarily related to how similar they are in other respects.)

Covers a lot of folklore about the devils and death, as well, because of the strong connection between them and the fairies. (Graf
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.
Jun 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
James Kelly
Dec 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nicholas Bobbitt
Dec 21, 2016 rated it liked it
This is neat, but I don't have much use for keeping it.
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Comprehensive and well written, but somewhat oddly organized.
Laura Keating
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The best source for all your otherworldly questions.
Juli Anna
This book was a great favorite of mine as a child. The public library had one copy on reserve and I spent hours poring over it when I was there, memorizing the names of the Tuatha de Danann, reading the stories of True Thomas and Tam Lin, studying which virtues were rewarded my fairies and which vices punished. Even through my adult life, this book has enjoyed a sort of clout in my imagination that few do, and so I decided to revisit it.

Briggs offers a detailed look at fairy beliefs, stories an
John Kruse
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like Keightley's Fairy mythology, I bought this paperback in the early 1980s and now, sadly, the spine's giving way and all the pages are starting to tumble out. Katharine Briggs is an expert in the field and the book is clear and comprehensive. As an author of fairy fiction myself, and a blogger at, Briggs is an invaluable source of authentic, traditional information and of inspiration.
Aug 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Nov 23, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Fraser Sherman
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Jun 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Laurel Norton
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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!
John Shelley
Jun 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is the most complete reference work on British fairy lore, from a giant of 20th Century folklore research. Essential reading.
Aug 15, 2014 marked it as to-read
Known in the UK as The Dictionary of Fairies, published by Penguin.
A great guide to fairy lore from the Middle Ages to the present.
Heather Demetrios
Love, adore, love! A must-have for any writer of fantasy! Also, Maggie Stiefvater agrees with me.
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
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
Nov 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: research, folklore
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.
Dec 29, 2012 rated it liked it
As i believed, a must have in your collection if you can get it
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jacqueline Czel
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent reference book for fantasy writers!
Oct 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's easy to get lost in this book. I use it regularly for inspiration for my fairy tale maps.
Dann Dioses
rated it liked it
Jun 25, 2012
Jennifer Topper
rated it liked it
May 11, 2012
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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

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