Briggs, K(atharine) M(ary) (1898-1980)

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Briggs, K(atharine) M(ary) (1898-1980)

British folklorist, critic, novelist, former president of the Folklore Society, London, and expert on folk tales and fairy lore. She is best remembered for her many books on the folklore of the British Isles. Born November 8, 1898, in Hamp-stead, London, she studied at Lansdowne House, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University (M.A., Ph.D.). For fifteen years, she headed an amateur touring company, produced plays in the air force, and wrote and produced plays locally in Perthshire and Oxfordshire. During World War I, she served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, then became a free-lance writer. She was a member of the Bibliographical Society, the Historical Association, the American Folklore Society, and the English Folk-dance and Song Society. In 1969, she was awarded a D.Litt. by Oxford University.

Her Dictionary of British Folktales in the English Language is widely regarded as a monumental scholarly achievement; her various works on fairy lore also established her as a preeminent scholar in this field. However, in spite of her encyclopedic knowledge of fairy lore and her enthusiasm for the subject, she did not believe in the reality of fairy life, stating specifically: "This is not an attempt to prove that fairies are real. I am agnostic on the subject."

Briggs died October 15, 1980, in Kent, England.


Briggs, Katherine. The Anatomy of Puck: An Examination of Fairy Beliefs among Shakespeare's Contemporaries and Successors. London: Routledge & Paul, 1959.

. A Dictionary of British Folktales in the English Language. 4 vols. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1970-71.

. An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures. New York: Pantheon Books, 1976.

. The Fairies in English Tradition and Literature. 1967. Reprinted as The Fairies in Tradition and Literature. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967.

. Folktales of England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965.

. The Personnel of Fairyland: A Short Account of the Fairy People of Great Britain for Those Who Tell Stories to Children. 1953. Reprint, Detroit: Singing Tree Press, 1971.

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Briggs, K(atharine) M(ary) (1898-1980)

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