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The Katharine Briggs Award 2015

— Posted on 19th November 2015

With great pleasure, we announce that The Katharine Briggs Award 2015 was won by Richard P. Jenkins for his book Black Magic and Bogeymen: Fear, Rumour and Popular Belief in the North of Ireland 1972-74, published by Cork University Press.

Runner up: David Atkinson and Steve Roud (eds.)Street Ballads in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Ireland and North America. The Interface between Print and Oral TraditionsAshgate 2014.

Here’s the judges’ comments re the shortlist;


Jenkins, Richard, Black Magic and Bogeymen. Fear, Rumour and Popular Belief in the North of Ireland 1972-74, Cork University Press, 2014.

Evidence from local newspapers and other archives, together with the author’s original fieldwork, contextualises the Northern Irish black magic scare of 1972-4 within a milieu of violence, death and political upheaval, and effectively demonstrates how fear and propaganda shaped popular belief in black magic among both the Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland.


Atkinson, David, Roud, Steve (eds.), Street Ballads in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Ireland and North America. The Interface between Print and Oral Traditions, Ashgate 2014.

A wide-ranging, masterly study of the complex interface between street literature, in the form of printed broadsides, and folk song as performed in nineteenth century Britain, North America and Ireland. An important contribution to debate on the relationship between printed and oral popular culture.


Shortlisted (alphabetical order)

Banks, Stephen, Informal Justice in England and Wales 1760–1914. The Courts of Popular Opinion, The Boydell Press, 2014.

A wide-ranging social history offering original insights into the interaction of law and lore in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England and Wales. Evidence drawn from a range of folkloric sources is effectively deployed to illuminate the social complexities and physical hardships of village life during this period.


Clarke, David, How UFOs Conquered the World. The History of Modern Myth, Aurum Press, 2015.

A lucid account based on 30+ years of archival research and fieldwork by an eminent researcher on the subject. Clarke concludes that UFOs are a distinctively modern, Western folk legend: culturally determined products of post-War fears and desires. This is interwoven with the author’s own intellectual journey from teenage sci-fi enthusiast to critical investigator of the psychosocial process of myth-making.


Salzberg, Rosa, Ephemeral City. Cheap Print and Urban Culture in Renaissance Venice, Manchester University Press, 2014.

A well researched and written account of vernacular print culture and its interface with performance in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Venice. The depth and breadth of detail is welcome, and makes this useful reading for any folklorist looking at the interface of print and oral tradition.


Scurr, Ruth, John Aubrey. My Own Life, Chatto & Windus, 2015.

The life, times and work of the seventeenth-century English antiquary John Aubrey are beautifully and imaginatively evoked in this volume. Commendable for its style, this book’s knowledgeable use of historical material constitutes a valuable resource for the folklorist.


Teverson, Andrew, Warwick, Alexandra, Wilson, Leigh (eds.), The Edinburgh Critical Edition of the Selected Writings of Andrew Lang (2 vols.), Edinburgh University Press, 2015.

A superb scholarly resource for folklorists, in which Lang’s role in the development of folkloristics from the second half of the nineteenth century receives critical appraisal. Excellent contextualisation of Lang’s folkloric writing amongst his other work on literature, together with helpful appendices and comprehensive explanatory notes.


Warner, Marina, Once Upon a Time. A Short History of the Fairy Tale, Oxford University Press, 2014.

This concise, accessible yet comprehensive history of well known (and more some obscure) fairy tales does much to open up the genre and imbue it with a new energy which should appeal to expert and casual reader alike. Essential reading for anyone interested in the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.