The Old Stories

(Anova Books for the National Trust 2013)

5-star reviews on www.goodreads.com: 
 "A fantastic collection of fairy stories...gorgeous illustrations throughout...Go out and buy this book." 
"Frankly, I have never encountered an author who does short stories quite like this author does.  She breathes new life into OLD tales and does it with wit and humour.  Utterly engaging, and a wonderful trip down memory lane." 
"A truly enchanting read." 
"Not only does this book contain quaint tales from all over Britain, but it contains little tidbits of knowledge as well.  It is so hard to determine which story was my favourite. I loved them all... a wonderful book of tales." 
"my visiting grand-nieces and grand-nephews enjoyed them tremendously. Asking if they could have some read again the next night.  To me that is the best recommendation, but I have to tell you as an adult this reader got just as much enjoyment from the stories as the children they were read to." 
"Possibly the finest collection of faery stories I've ever read. The author has a keen eye for faery 'type' and retells the tales with such finesse that she truly captures their capricious, mischievous, funny, mysterious natures in a way that would appeal to a modern reader while still hearkening the ancient-tale traditions." 
"Endearing collection of cherished stories for all ages... I loved the additional information at the back of the book to read separately from the stories. The illustrations were lovely... The wealth of additional information and where to find it makes this one shine above the others.  Very well done." 
"Simply lovely and beautifully illustrated."
"Well selected, well-written (eloquent, enjoyable and close to oral storytelling...)  Bonus points for the fact that each story comes with extensive notes...and there is a long bibliography at the end for further research... Enjoyable read for fans of fairy folklore, and a very useful research for storytellers."

5-star reviews on amazon.co.uk:
"This is a wonderful book.  I enjoyed reading this and will do again. A great read. Delighted with this." 
"I loved this book and really enjoyed it"

 5-star reviews on the National Trust Shop:
"Really lovely for a gift, gorgeous illustrations" 
"A beautiful book. Delightful classic pictures illustrate the magical tales within. A must for believers and non-believers alike."

A definitive collection of traditional tales about the Faery tribes of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man, aimed at adults but also with much appeal to children. The 25 stories are interspersed with spotlight features on Faery folklore, including their morals, the various  tribes, spells and dealings between Faeries and Mortals. There are also quotes from historical manuscripts going back to Anglo-Saxon times, 17th Century spells to summon up Faeries and numerous sightings of them recorded over hundreds of years. Beautifully produced by the publisher with illustrations by vintage artists such as Arthur Rackham.


Of Faeries, Elves & Goblins
Hob Thrush
Midwife to the Faeries
The Bogie’s Field
Edain and Midhir
Whuppity Stoorie
Yallery Brown
The Man Who Married a Faery
Faery Wishes
Only Me
The Faeries' Mist-Gate
Some Faery Tribes 
King Herla
The Leprechaun's Trick
The Miser and The Spriggans
Tam Lin
The Goblin and the Sprites
Dealings between Faeries and Mortals
The Faery Borrower
The King of France’s Daughter
A Box of Faeries
A Year and a Day in Faeryland
The Good People's Shawl
A Brewery of Eggshells
Thomas the Rhymer
The Magic Ointment
Flying with the Faeries

"You may call them Good People, Strangers, The Gentry, Honest Folk, People of Peace, Tiddy Ones, Mother’s Blessing, Them That’s In or simply Themselves; but never speak their true names. 
They are older than history and bitter-sweet as memories. They dwell under the ground, inside the hill, through the passage, beneath the water and beyond the mist. 
They are both male and female, young and old, immortal. They may grow tall as kings or stay small as sucklings. They are of the earth yet unearthly.  Some are beautiful, angelic and light as gossamer; others are wizened, moth-eaten, prickly old men.  They dress in caps and feathers, breeches and gowns: green, red, white or the colours of dust. They spin and weave, bake bread, work metal.  Their music is like honey spiked with sorrow. 
They are passionate, vengeful and cunning, yet neither good nor evil.  They are secretive and sly, creators of illusion, shapeshifters. They fly with magic cap or powerful words, astride twigs and stems, or dizzily on gusts of wind.  They can fade, turn invisible and vanish."

Once upon a time there was a thick, dark forest that was said to be enchanted.  Sweet scents often drifted from it; creeping ivy and vicious thorns blocked every path that led to it.  Nobody with any sense ever ventured inside it. 
It happened that the laird who owned the land where this forest grew had a wayward daughter called Janet.  One damp and misty day, Janet loosened the braids from her long hair, slipped out from her father’s hall, ran to the forest edge and went in. 
Under the trees, everything was utterly still and eerily silent.  Janet walked on slowly until she reached an ancient well.  Beside it stood a solitary milk-white horse in full harness; but there was no sign of its rider.  
Janet called out but nobody answered.  She crept closer to the well.  The crumbling bricks were half-hidden by a mass of sweet smelling wild roses.  She reached out to pick one... and at that very moment a young man stepped out from the trees. 
‘Stay!’ he cried. ‘Do not take my lady’s flowers!  How dare you enter this forbidden place?’ 
Janet stared at him.  ‘I can come here any time I want to,’ she said coolly.  ‘My father owns this forest.’ 
The young man advanced on her, fixing her with wild, grey eyes.  ‘You lie!  No Mortal can have dominion over this place.  It belongs to the Queen of Faeryland.’ 
‘What nonsense,’ retorted Janet.  ‘You can’t frighten me.’ 
‘You may change your mind when you hear my story,’ the young man said.  ‘My name is Tam Lin, and I used to be an ordinary person like you - until the day that I entered this forest.  I was overcome by a strange drowsiness that caused me to fall off my horse and break my back: I almost died.  But I was rescued by the Faery Queen.  She nursed me with her own hands until I was well again.  Then she named the price of her care: I must stay here for ever as her bondservant and serve her every whim. One of my tasks is to guard the forest - and to capture anyone who enters it.’ 
Janet tossed her head.  ‘You’ll not catch me, Tam Lin.’ 
He said, ‘The Queen has evil ways to punish me if I let any intruders go free.   But I am prepared to risk that for you - if you will help me in return.’ 
‘Help you, Tam Lin?  In what way?’ 
‘You must come back here,’ he said, ‘at midnight tomorrow.’ 
‘I'd be a fool to agree to that,' said Janet.  'Tomorrow is the most dangerous night of the year - it's Hallowe'en!’  
‘Indeed,' said Tam Lin. 'But you would be even more of a fool to refuse me.  For at Hallowe'en the Faery Queen will lead her procession past this very well - and I will be able to escape her if you can pull me free. Come back here, deliver me from her torments!  It is my only chance - and your only chance too.  For if you either spurn me or fail this task, the Faery Queen will hunt you out -  and make you her slave as well.’ 
‘But what must I do?’ cried Janet.  'Surely it cannot be so easy?' 
'You are right,' said Tam Lin.  ‘The Faery Queen will terrify you: she will try to beat you down with grotesque shape-shifting spells. You must find the strength to resist them.'  
Janet shook her head and shuddered, making to flee him.  She searched frantically for the path she had come down, or for some deer track that might take her away from this haunted glade; but whichever way she turned, he was there first to block her way.  
- from Tam Lin, a Scottish faery tale

Take a glass vial, first washed with rose water and marigold flower water, 
the flowers gathered towards the east.  
Put put salad oil into it. 
Add buds of hollyhock, flowers of marigold, 
wild thyme (gathered near the side of a hill where Faeries often go), 
buds of young hazel, and the grass of a Faery throne.  
Set it to dissolve for three days in the sun, 
and keep it for your use.”
- simplified from a 17th Century manuscript, England