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An image of the cover of Cornish Folk Tales by Mike O'Connor
Cornish Folk Tales
Mike O'Connor

The ancient land of Cornwall is steeped in mysterious tradition, proud heritage and age-old folklore. Before books were widely available, wandering 'droll tellers' used to spread insight and humour to all parts of the Duchy - swapping their tales for food and shelter. Anthony James was one such droll teller, and this collection follows him as he makes his way around Cornwall one glorious summer. Richly illustrated with hand-drawn images and woodcuts, Cornish Folk Tales will appeal to anyone captivated by this beautiful land and its resident kindly giants, mischievous piskeys, seductive mermaids, bold knights and barnacle-encrusted sea captains.

Mike O’Connor’s Cornish Folk Tales, published by the History Press, is much more than a simple recounting of traditional material.
Storyteller and musician Mike O’Connor has conducted extensive research into traditional music and folklore in Cornwall. As a consequence he has been recognised as a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedh, and in 2009 received the Henwood Medal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall.
In a decade of research, Mike has uncovered the almost unknown world of the itinerant storyteller and singer in early 19th century Cornwall – the travelling ‘Droll Teller’.
In Cornish Folk Tales Mike O’Connor recounts the story of one such traveller, Anthony James, who with his son tramped the lanes of Cornwall in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. But as well as retelling many folk tales and legends, through his scholarship Mike has recreated a framework for his stories that is essentially factual. As well as the main protagonists, the other characters are drawn from history and realistically placed in their social context.
Cornwall was then in some ways still a remote land, though changing swiftly with the industrial revolution. The Cornish language was (just) still in use. Cornish Folk Tales is a vivid window on the traditional and popular culture of this distant world. It illustrates the principal customs of the time, and includes vernacular poetry in both English and Cornish. The folk songs, tunes and dances mentioned are also the result of original research. This book brings together stories, history, custom and folklore in a unique way.
The reader is given an unprecedented insight, for Cornish Folk Tales performs a dual role. Not only does it recount the tales of its title but, in a unique way, it places them in a beautifully researched and completely realistic context, which effortlessly draws the reader into a lost world of two centuries past. It informs as much as it entertains, with no detriment to either. The reviews have been wonderful - you will enjoy it too!

UK: 11 from Lyngham House, incl. p& p
O'seas: I recommend Amazon.com!