We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

The Katharine Briggs Award

The Katharine Briggs Award is an annual book prize established by the Folklore Society to encourage the study of folklore, to help improve the standard of folklore publications in Britain and Ireland, to establish The Folklore Society as an arbiter of excellence, and to commemorate the life and work of the distinguished scholar Katharine Mary Briggs (1898-1980; Society president 1969-1972).

For the purposes of the Award, ‘folklore studies’ will be interpreted broadly, to include all aspects of traditional and popular culture, narrative, beliefs, customs and folk arts, including studies of a literary, anthropological, linguistic, sociological or geographical nature.

The award is open to all books in English (normally not translations) on folklore having their first, original and initial publication in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland in the period from 1 June to the following 31 May, for award in the subsequent November. This can include new scholarly editions of previously published texts, but excludes reprints, folktales retold for children, and simple collections of tales devoid of scholarly apparatus.

Pamphlets, booklets and brochures do not normally constitute a ‘book’ for the purposes of the award. Where there is doubt that an entry is a ‘book’ or not, the judges shall arbitrate and their decision is final. Books published by The Folklore Society, or written or published by a member of the society’s Council are not eligible.

Each year there are three judges appointed by The Folklore Society’s Council. The award convenor cannot be a judge. The winning book will be that which, in the opinion of the judges, has made the most distinguished contribution to folklore studies in the year in question. However, judges may withhold the Award if, in their opinion, no book reaches the required standard. The judges’ decision is final.

The Award is presented at the reception following the annual Katharine Briggs Lecture in November. The main prize is the Award itself, but the winning author, or authors, will be presented with an engraved goblet and a cheque for £200.

2020 Revised Procedure and Timetable

During this difficult period, more than ever, the Folklore Society remains determined to encourage and support the study of folklore and the standard of folklore publication in Britain and Ireland.

We are inviting submissions for the Katharine Briggs Award 2020 but, due to the current pandemic and the closure of our office until September 2020, we have revised our procedures and timetable for this year’s entries as follows:

  1. The eligibility rule (rule 3) is unchanged: the 2020 award is open to all books in English on folklore having their first, original and initial publication in the UK and Ireland in the period 1 June 2019 to 31 May 2020. The 2020 KB Award winner will be announced at our conference in the spring of 2021 rather than November 2020.
  2. 2020 KB entry forms for eligible books for the Katharine Briggs Award 2020 should be submitted as signed and scanned pdfs to [email protected]
  3. The deadline for submission of entry forms for the 2020 Katharine Briggs Award is extended until 31 August 2020.
  4. Our Folklore Society Office at 50 Fitzroy Street is closed until September: no Katharine Briggs Award 2020 entries must be sent until after 1 September.
  5. Deadline for receipt of books entered for KB 2020: 31 October 2020: we will liaise with publishers about arrangements for delivery if our office continues to be closed after 1 September
  6. Electronic copies of entries are not accepted
  7. The short list for the 2020 Katharine Briggs Award entries will be decided and sent to publishers and authors by the end of January 2021 and the Award will be announced in April 2021.
  8. The 2021 Katharine Briggs Award will follow the usual timetable: eligible books published between 1 June 2020 and 31 May 2021, short list in September 2021, Award in November 2021

Rules

  1. The Folklore Society has established an annual book prize to be called ‘The Katharine Briggs Folklore Award’. The purpose of the Award is to encourage the study of Folklore, to help improve the standard of folklore publications in Britain and Ireland, to establish The Folklore Society as an arbiter of excellence, and to commemorate the life and work of Katharine M. Briggs.
  2. ‘Folklore Studies’ will be interpreted broadly, to include all aspects of traditional and popular culture, narrative, beliefs, customs and folk arts, including studies of a literary, anthropological, linguistic, sociological or geographical nature.
  3. The Award is open to all books in English (normally not translations) on folklore having their first, original and initial publication in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland in the period from 1 June to the following 31 May, for award in the subsequent November. [deferred to April 2021] This can include new scholarly editions of previously published texts but excludes reprints, folktales retold for children, and simple collections of tales devoid of scholarly apparatus.
  4. Pamphlets, booklets and brochures do not normally constitute a ‘book’ for the purposes of the KBFA. Where there is doubt that an entry is a ‘book’ or not, the Judges shall arbitrate and their decision is final.
  5. Four copies of each book submitted for the Award must reach the Award judges at the Society’s office by 31 May for the Award the following November. [2020: due to Covid-19, the deadline for receipt of entry forms is 31 August, and no books should be sent before 1 September]
  6. There will be three judges appointed by The Folklore Society’s Council. The winning book will be that which, in the opinion of the judges, made the most distinguished contribution to folklore studies in the year in question.
  7. The Award will be presented at the reception following the annual Katharine Briggs Memorial Lecture in November. The main prize will be the Award itself, but the winning author, or authors, will be presented with an engraved goblet and a cheque for £200. Where an author, or authors, is/are unable to attend the reception in person, a representative of the publishers of the winning entry, will be invited to attend.
  8. No book published by The Folklore Society, nor written or published by a member of the society’s Council, may be considered for the Award.
  9. Books submitted for the Award will not be returned, including any subsequently disqualified on the basis of these rules.
  10. The judges may withhold the Award if, in their opinion, no book reaches the required standard.
  11. The judges’ decision is final. The convenor of the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award cannot be a judge.
  12. The Society’s Council may amend these Rules as it sees fit in future years.

Submission procedure

The convenor sends out a call for submissions each March, but unsolicited entries from either publishers or authors are also very welcome, as the convenor’s mailing list can never be fully comprehensive.

Four copies of each book submitted for the Award must reach the Society’s office by 31 May [2020: entries received between 1 September and 31 October] to be eligible for the Award for that year. Where books are published in late May, the entry form must be received in the office by 31 May and the books can be received until 30 June [2020: entry form deadline: 31 August]. It is highly recommended that books be sent by ‘signed for’ delivery, or by courier. Books submitted for the Award will not be returned, even if subsequently disqualified according to the rules. Publishers and authors are therefore advised to read the rules with great care, as each year several books are disqualified, usually for falling outside the permitted dates of publication, or for being reprints or second editions without significant new material.

Download the Katharine Briggs Award entry form   2020 KB entry form

Previous winners

  • 2019 Guy BEINER, Forgetful Remembrance: Social Forgetting and Vernacular Historiography of a Rebellion in Ulster (Oxford University Press)
  • 2018 Martin GRAEBE, As I Walked Out: Sabine Baring Gould and the Search for the Folk Songs of Devon and Cornwall (Signal Books)
  • 2017 Christopher JOSIFFE, Gef! The Strange Tale of an Extra-Special Talking Mongoose (Strange Attractor)
  • 2016 Lizanne HENDERSON, Witchcraft and Folk Belief in the Age of Enlightenment: Scotland, 1670-1740 (Palgrave)
  • 2015 Richard JENKINS, Black Magic and Bogeymen (Cork University Press)
  • 2014 David ATKINSON, The Anglo-Scottish Ballad and its Imaginary Contexts (OpenBook Publishers)
  • 2013 Karl BELL, The Legend of Spring-Heeled Jack: Victorian Urban Folklore and Popular Cultures (Boydell Press)
  • 2012 David HOPKIN, Voices of the People in Nineteenth-Century France (Cambridge University Press)
  • 2011 Herbert HALPERT, edited by John Widdowson, Folk Tales, Trickster Tales and Legends of the Supernatural from the Pinelands of New Jersey (Edwin Mellen Press)
  • 2010 Arthur TAYLOR, Played at the Pub: the Pub Games of Britain (English Heritage Publications)
  • 2009 Kathryn MARSH, The Musical Playground: Global Tradition and Change in Children’s Songs and Games (Oxford University Press)
  • 2008 Richard BEBB, Welsh Furniture 1250-1950: a Cultural History of Craftsmanship and Design (Saer Books)
  • 2007 Jack ZIPES, Why Fairy Tales Stick (Routledge)
  • 2006 Catherine RIDER, Magic and Impotence in the Middle Ages (Oxford University Press)
  • 2005 Jeremy HARTE, Explore Fairy Traditions (Heart of Albion Press)
  • 2004 Steve ROUD, The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland (Penguin)
  • 2003 Malcolm JONES, The Secret Middle Ages (Sutton)
  • 2002 Elizabeth HALLAM and Jenny HOCKEY, Death, Memory and Material Culture (Berg)
  • 2001 Adam FOX, Oral and Literate Culture in England, 1500-1700 (Clarendon Press)
  • 2000 Diarmuid Ó GIOLLÁIN, Locating Irish Folklore: Tradition, Modernity, Identity (Cork University Press)
  • 1999 Marina WARNER, No Go the Bogeyman: Scaring, Lulling and Making Mock (Chatto and Windus)
  • 1998 Joseph Falaky NAGY, Conversing with Angels and Ancients The Literary Myths of Medieval Ireland (Four Courts)
  • 1997 Neil JARMAN, Parading Culture: Parades and Visual Displays in Northern Ireland (Berg)
  • 1996 Mary-Ann CONSTANTINE, Breton Ballads (CMCS Publications)
  • 1995 Timothy MITCHELL, Flamenco Deep Song (Yale University Press)
  • 1994 Claudia KINMONTH, Irish Country Furniture 1700-1950 (Yale University Press)
  • 1993 Georgina BOYES, The Imagined Village: Culture, Ideology, and the English Folk Revival (Manchester University Press)
  • 1992 E.P. THOMPSON, Customs in Common (Merlin Press)
  • 1991 Simon CHARSLEY, Rites of Marrying: The Wedding Industry in Scotland (Manchester University Press)
  • 1990 Paul OLIVER, Blues Fell This Morning (Cambridge University Press)
  • 1989 J.P. MALLORY, In Search of the Indo-Europeans Language, Archaeology and Myth (Thames & Hudson)
  • 1988 Hilda Ellis DAVIDSON, Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe (Manchester University Press)
  • 1987 Amy SHUMAN, Storytelling Rights (Cambridge University Press)
  • 1986 lona and Peter OPIE, The Singing Game (Oxford University Press)
  • 1985 Vladimir PROPP, Theory and History of Folklore, edited by Anatoly Liberman (Manchester University Press)
  • 1984 Sandra BILLINGTON, A Social History of the Fool (Harvester Press)
  • 1983 Michael PICKERING, Village Song and Culture (Croom Helm)
  • 1982 Samuel Pyeatt MENEFEE, Wives for Sale: an Ethnographic Study of British Popular Divorce (Basil Blackwell)