By Bob Trubshaw, published by Explore Books (Heart of Albion Press) 2002 at £9.95. 196pp. ISBN: 1-872883-60-5. (Reviewed by David Taylor)
It's true that you can't keep a good man down. Since folding 'At The Edge' magazine a few years ago, Bob has been busy writing and publishing books on local history. In this new volume, Bob returns to one of his obvious passions - folklore. This is the first in a series of books under the new 'Explore...' title that will provide accessible introductions to all aspects of folklore and mythology. Now, any book that has Professor Ronald Hutton proclaiming it "A howling success, which plugs a big and obvious gap" is certainly praise indeed. Bob has tackled an unenviable task, summing up research (some of it of an academic nature) in folklore in an easily understandable format.
Folklore research is put into historical perspective, examining how cultural conditions have fashioned trends in folklore and how folklore and folk narratives develop into contemporary accounts, from nursery tales and ghosts through to popular Friend Of A Friend (FOAF) stories and Asian sub-cultural iconography relevant to modern Britain. All of this is extremely relevant to anyone interested in folklore studies and modern festivals and customs. Believers in folklore as 'pagan' survivals will find much to make them reconsider. My favourite section is 'Folklore & Belief', this is an absolute must read for all serious students of the subject, covering folk medicine, fairies, ghosts and holy wells to name but a few. Any book that can mention fairies, ghosts, alien abductions and telly tubbies in the same chapter certainly gets my vote!
Bob is to be congratulated on tackling a difficult subject. On the one hand there are highly academic textbooks on folklore and at the other end popular books that would have you believe that everything from the green man to morris dancers are pagan survivals.
Any major quibbles? I would have liked to see more pictures/photos inside. I'm also not over keen on the cover design (sorry Bob!), but these are not major objections. This first volume in the series certainly sets high standards for future books to follow, but if they are anything like this they will be a valuable addition to their respective subjects for years to come.
If you are serious about folklore you only have one option - get serious and buy this book!