Yesterday on the SurLaLune Discussion Board, a request for collections of faerie stories. The request was this:
Not fairy tales as in Hans Christian Andersen sorts of collections (a copy of which I already own, heh heh)--actual stories focusing on things of a fae nature. I've been interested in this topic for quite some time, actually, but most of the books I come across are the sort with pictures for children. That being said, I was wondering if any of you had any suggestions for reading material--or, perhaps, even websites that were particularly interesting? Personal stories, perhaps?I don't have a comprehensive list at the moment--don't know why I never compiled one actually--but I thought I would share some of my top picks here and perhaps add more during the week. These are my first books to consult when I am reading about faerie lore and have a place on my shelves.
First off, one of the most important books about fairies is an old one, The Fairy Mythology: Illustrative of the Romance and Superstition of Various Countries (Classic Reprint) by Thomas Keightley. It has also been published under the title The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves & Other Little People. It is a classic and remains one of the best books. Every other book references this one--and you should be suspicious of any book that doesn't. The best news is that this one is available all over the internet for free. I recommend either a PDF version from Google books, there are a few, here's one or the version at Sacred Texts. There are also reprints like the ones I linked to above. Yes, it is old, but that doesn't diminish its importance or significance.
Another important book is The Fairies in Tradition and Literature. Katharine Briggs is important in the world of folklore and fairy tales. She was an expert in faerie lore, too. (I even wrote an article about her for Faerie Magazine last year.) She wrote a few books about faeries and their lore. The easiest to obtain these days is The Fairies in Tradition and Literature. She also wrote An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, & Other Supernatural Creatures and The Vanishing People: Fairy Lore and Legends.
Next is Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness by Carole G. Silver. This one is one of the most recent of the books listed here and important. No, this is not a collection of stories per se, but it is so wonderful to read the snippets and analysis that you really won't care.
The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries: The Classic Study of Leprechauns, Pixies, and Other Fairy Spirits by W.Y. Evans Wentz is another classic and easily found for free on the internet such as at Gutenberg and Sacred Texts.
And for fun and interest, I also recommend The Secret Commonwealth: Of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies (New York Review Books). This is a short classic available all over the internet, see Sacred Texts and Google Books, and but a recent edition with an intro by Marina Warner is an excellent edition to consult.
As for collections of worldwide faerie stories, there are more encyclopedias to consult than tale collections. An excellent choice is Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia which would be quite lonely on your shelf without its companion, Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth.
But as for a book with just tales similar to my Mermaid and Other Water Spirit Tales From Around the World, there aren't many choices outside of collections aimed at younger readers. Perhaps I should consider a collection from SurLaLune someday...