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Monumental Lies and the Folklore of the Wild West

  • 26/09/2023
  • 18:00-19:30
  • Online talk

Monumental Lies and the Folklore of the Wild West

A Folklore Society Online Talk


Ronald M. ‘Ron’ James

Early western folklore celebrated a playful embrace of tall tales and exaggeration, a brand of deceit woven into diverse traditions by people placing their mark on the region. Examining a wide variety of sources ranging from private journals, books, newspaper articles and archaeological remains, James describes how folklore, affected by emigration and industry, took root in rocky soil during the nineteenth century.

Mark Twain, often a go-to source for collections of early tall tales of the Wild West, cannot be overlooked, but his interaction with local traditions was specific and narrow. More importantly, William Wright–writing as Dan De Quille–emerges as a key collector of stories, a counterpart of early European folklorists. With a bedrock understanding of what unfolded in the nineteenth century, it is possible to consider how this legacy shaped the modern popularized image of the Wild West.

Ronald M. James is a retired state historic preservation officer and former chair of the National Park System’s Historic Landmarks Committee. Spanning more than four decades, he has published on history, folklore, archaeology, and architectural history, dealing with subjects in Europe and the American Far West. His most recent of a dozen books, is the newly released, Monumental Lies: Early Nevada Folklore of the Wild West. In 2016, James was elected to the Gorsedh Kernow, the bardic council of Cornwall, taking the name Carer Henwethlow, ‘Lover of Legends.’

Tickets £6.00 (£4.00 for Folklore Society members with Promo Code: to get the promo code, please log in to the Members Area) from Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/monumental-lies-and-the-folklore-of-the-wild-west-tickets-649431195187?

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