Monday, January 31, 2011

The start of Ruth Manning-Sanders' amazing final act

I'll be writing frequently and in-depth about Ruth Manning-Sanders1 on this blog.

In 1958, the year she turned 72, Manning-Sanders published her first anthology of folk and fairy tales -- "Peter and the Piskies".

It began a remarkable 30-year run -- yes, she lived and published until she was 102 -- of writing and publishing fairy tale anthologies. In fact, she published more than 50 fairy tale books during that time period, starting with this volume on tales from Cornwall, where she resided for much of her amazing, adventure-filled and at times sad and bittersweet life.

Pictured with this entry are two of the different dust jackets that were used for the American edition of "Peter and the Piskies" by Roy Publishers. Roy didn't publish this Manning-Sanders volume in the United States until 1966 -- eight years after it was originally published in the United Kingdom by Oxford University Press.

In an author's note at the front of the American edition, Manning-Sanders writes of the passing down of fairy tales:

"A widow woman lived in a cottage by the sea. She had lots of children; but by and by, of course, they grew up. The sons went out into the world, and the daughters got married and went to homes of their own. So when the widow woman was old she lived alone. ... It was the piskies who told the old widow woman the stories in this book, and she told them to me, and now I am telling them to you."

Manning-Sanders was herself a widow when she wrote those words that were published when she was 72. She had also been preceded in death by her son. Was Manning-Sanders herself the "old widow woman"?

"Peter and the Piskies" is full of tales of piskies, knockers, mermaids, witches, giants, spriggans, fairies, demons and more. If you can track down a copy, it comes with the highest recommendation for fans of folklore and fairy tales.


1. That link, in fact, goes to the Wikipedia page of which I am the primary author. That page is also in dire need of a full revision, and I might use this blog as a launching pad for those efforts.

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