Tell me if you have a topic you'd like to see. (Contact: .)
Please also let others know about this site.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Wickes - The Queer Company - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Two weeks ago I presented another "classic" spooky tale from the anthology by Frances G. Wickes, Happy Holidays.  Today's story was supposed to be published on schedule while I was on the road storytelling.  I just discovered I didn't get it out because I skipped one small step!  My apologies.

This story is also found in Joseph Jacobs' English Fairy Tales under the title of "The Strange Visitor."  Jacobs offers some important differences that I'll mention after the story and then, to make it more friendly for the youngest listeners, another idea will be given by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey from her Firelight Stories.

That last part is usually shouted out and aimed at the most vulnerable member of the audience.  It fits in a category of spooky tale called a "jump story" because it's meant to make the audience jump. 

I mentioned the story could be found under the title of "The Strange Visitor" in Joseph Jacobs' English Fairy Tales with some differences.  Jacobs uses the refrain of "Aih-h-h! -- late -- and wee-e-e moul" for every other answer by the Strange Visitor and Jacobs candidly confessed to not having the slightest idea what it meant, but it was in his original source, The Nursery Rhymes of Scotland by W. Chambers, published in 1842 and it was accepted by Jacobs' young listeners.  He further suggests "The prosaic-minded may substitute 'Up-late-and-little-food.' " Perhaps, but Wickes omits it and gives a more streamlined response.  Jacobs also gives directions as to how the Visitor sounds with his responses -- to just see his version of the tale go to
 and you will see that final answer is "FOR YOU!" and the teller is directed:
(At the top of the voice, with a wave of the arm and a stamp of the feet.")
To make it less frightening for the youngest listeners, Carolyn Sherwin Bailey in her Firelight Stories changed the ending ever so slightly so that after the Strange Visitor talks about his pumpkin head and the little old woman asks, "What did you come for?" she has this ending instead:
"TO KEEP YOU COMPANY," said Somebody, as he danced about the kitchen.
          So the little old woman was not lonely any more.

I leave it to you and your audience to decide what you find more appropriate.

Additionally last week I said I would give a bit more information about the illustrator, Gertrude  Kay, for this story and last week's story from Frances G. Wickes' Happy Holidays.  While neither of the two tales show all she was able to do, there is an interesting article about how she not only was a student of the famous author/illustrator, Howard Pyle and his slightly less famous sister, Katherine, who was also an author/illustrator, but Gertrude was also successfully an early 20th century illustrator in the male-dominated world of commercial illustration.

An excellent article about her and several samples of her usually colorful illustrations can be found at Illustration Art, which also mentions her travels in China and Japan and then, after that, to other lands.  Those first travels began right about the time Happy Holidays was published, so I can imagine how much she would have loved to do more with next week's Japanese story, "Shippeitaro."  Her samples include several from China and Japan.  The publisher of Happy Holidays kept the book's cost down by sticking to black and white illustrations even on those that were full page.

In looking at the source for next week's story, Teresa Peirce Williston, I decided it would be a shame to omit the illustrations in Williston's Japanese Fairy Tales, by Sanchi Ogawa.  The story Wickes presents faithfully enough, but Williston's telling of the story benefits immensely from Ogawa's illustrations.  I hope you'll see what I mean when I post it next week.
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

1 comment:

Wee Moul said...

I would pay good money to know what Aih-late-wee-moul' actually means.
Moul is old Scottish for a mold. Like a button mold tool.
But that just confuses me more