tim’s sunday quickie: indispensable

Today we’re talking about our favorite reference/non-fiction books for doing fantasy research. I have lots of books I adore: Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (preferably an old and a new edition, since the older ones have the names of lots more obscure nymphs), Hamilton’s and Bullfinch’s respective Mythologys, Davidson’s Dictionary of Angels (which will make the heads of any devoted Southern Baptists you know explode; those people have a hard time comprehending that in most of the early religious texts “Satan” is a job title for angels, not a specific entity, and that moreover it’s a shitty job handed out by God himself). And of course many books have been useful for more specific research.

But if I had to pick one book and get rid of the others, I’d keep An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures by Katharine Briggs. An exhaustively researched book (with an extensive bibliography), it’s the best survey/overview work I’ve read on the supernatural folklore of Western Europe (and a few migratory places like Appalachia and Australia, where fairy lore traveled and changed). I’ve gotten more story ideas from that book than I can count, and I highly recommend it for anyone with an interest in the fey.

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