(Batsford 2019)

(First edition National Trust 2008)

"Rosalind Kerven's selection and retelling is very good...Each tale is written in a different style, well suited to the material, which gives a good range of 'storytelling voice' for reading aloud...She uses the diversity as a springboard into an explorarion of English folktale motifs, summaries of related stories and snippets of folklore... Her copious notes...draw the reader into a world of other stories, and whets the appetite to read and listen further." 
– Folklore, journal of the Folklore Society 

5-star reviews on www.amazon.co.uk
"This wonderful set of fairy tales features stories and legends from the different counties of England and wraps them up so beautifully in illustrations that steal right into your heart, awakening long forgotten memories of ghosts and dragons, witches and forbidden forests... All the stories are equally delightful and the extensive notes and sources at the end of the book gives the history of the legend and its source in other literature."  
"Rosalind Kerven is to England what the Brothers Grimm were to Germany, except that she's even better at telling fairy tales than they were... she's also an immaculate researcher and her 'Notes and Sources towards the end of the book are every bit as fascinatingly rewarding as the tales themselves... one of my most cherished possessions." 
"a wonderful collection.  The writing itself is fluid and not overly formal... I love that there are notes to explain the origin of each story too." 
"The tales are imaginatively written, combined with enchanting illustrations.  I've enjoyed reading these stories as much as my 6-year old has enjoyed listening to them.  It would make a lovely timeless gift." 
"Lovely little book.  Really enjoyed the stories which have a good feel to them and lovely illustrations, really thick paper and good quality" 
"This is a wonderful book.  I enjoyed reading this and will do again.  A great read.  Delighted with this." 
"Love this book.  Really oldy world." 
"Very good read.  Lots of interesting tales."

5-star reviews on www.goodreads.com:

"a beautiful book with the quality and taste you would expect from something produced for the National Trust...charmingly written and enjoyable for adults and certainly children as well... if you want a beautiful and charming book, perfect for a coffee table, I can't see how you could do better than this." 
"wonderful book... I'd have no hesitation in recommending this collection as a primer of English folklore." 
"All the stories are equally delightful." 
"A quick read, with a great section with notes on the sources of each separate story.  It's a great place to start reading about the more traditional, less well known fairy stories.  Additionally, it's an absolutely beautiful book – something to treasure." 
"I absolutely love it and like to keep re-reading it."

The best known fairy tales come from mainland Europe, and even collections of folk tales from the British Isles tend to concentrate on Scotland, Wales and Ireland. So I conceived this book to fill in the gap - the first major book of purely English fairy tales since Joseph Jacobs' important two collections of 1890 and 1894. There were clearly many people waiting for something like this, since it quickly became one of the National Trust's bestselling titles. The book is marketed for adults, but it seems to work best as a cross-over title for both adults and children, and can often be found in the children's section of many shops.

My research revealed a huge selection of wonderful stories, and I have chosen one each on the following themes: Arthurian legend, magic helpers, evil spirits, giants, dragons, robin Hood, fairies, the Devil as trickster, nonsense tales, swan maidens, Cinderella motifs, witches, mermaids, enchanted woods and quests. Extensive notes discuss further examples of each story type.

The book is really beautifully produced, in hardback, with thick paper, excellent design and historical illustrations by the likes of Arthur Rackham.

  • King Arthur and the Hideous Hag (Cumbria)
  • Tom Tit Tot (Suffolk)
  • The Dead Moon (Lincolnshire
  • Jack the Giant Killer (Cornwall) 
  • Dragon Castle (Northumberland)
  • Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow (Nottinghamshire)
  • The Weardale Fairies (County Durham) 
  • The Devil’s Bargain (Lancashire)
  • The Princess and the Fool (Kent)
  • The Seventh Swan (Cambridgeshire)
  • The Knight of York (Yorkshire)
  • The Wicked Witch (London)
  • The Asrai (Shropshire)
  • The Forbidden Forest (Warwickshire)
  • The King of England’s Three Sons (Gypsy) 

There was once a foolish woman who had a foolish daughter, and which of them was worse I couldn’t tell you. Anyway, one day this woman set to and baked five fine apple pies, and when they were done she put them on the pantry shelf to cool, then popped out to do her shopping. Her daughter was slavering at the mouth from the delicious smell of them, and as soon as the mother was away, the girl sneaked into the pantry to steal a taste of one. It was so good that she couldn’t help but finish the whole pie off, and then another and yet another, until soon she’d finished every single one of them. Just as she was licking the last crumbs off her fingers, her mother came home; and when she saw what had happened - who can blame her? - she fell into a rage.
She slapped the daughter hard on both cheeks and when the girl began to bawl, she whacked her backside with a broom-handle, just for good measure. Then the woman went stomping out into the street, yelling at the top of her voice:
‘Oh lawdloverducks! What a glutton I’ve got for a daughter! That’s five whole pies the girl’s eaten, all in a single day!’
Eventually she calmed down a bit; but when she turned round to go back indoors, you’ll never guess what she found behind her: only a big black horse with bells and golden ornaments all over its bridle; and on its back was sitting the King! 
Of course the woman was terribly flustered. She smoothed her hair and dropped a curtsey and muttered a humble apology for not seeing his majesty before. But the King waved away her apologies and said,
‘Good woman, I heard you saying something about your daughter just now, that sounded very interesting, but I couldn’t catch the words properly. Would you kindly repeat it.’
- from Tom Tit Tot