Tales of Britain

By Jem Roberts

The finest, funniest stories of England, Scotland & Wales, refreshed for the 21st century. By Brother Bernard, as told to Jem Roberts.

Non fiction
166% funded
336 supporters

Publication date: March 2019

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The Tales

VIP admittance to the Tales of Britain Live Show in London, when the book is released, with Kate Harbour & Jem Roberts performing as Sister Sal & Brother Bernard plus everything at the Collectable level.
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Bespoke Tale

Have Brother Bernard retell a bespoke folktale of your choice which isn't in the book, based anywhere in the world! Receive a handwritten manuscript, and everything at the Collectable level.
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Brotherly Love

Brother Bernard will come to your school/home/region and perform a full live show comprising of your choice of the 77 stories plus everything at the Collectable level.
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Visit Bath and have Brother Bernard and Sister Sal show you and a friend around the city, telling you the tale of Bladud in the place where the Iron Age King really walked! Plus everything at the Collectable level.

Travel not included.

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There are currently no books which bring together the ancient stories of England, Scotland, Wales and the Isles, and particularly none that aim, above all, to entertain the largest audience possible. There are lots of localised anthologies and expensive academic works, mythology-based books which remain ghetto-ised as ‘Special Interest’. But in this time of Brexit-based disunity, we believe that one thing which has always brought the people of this island together is our shared culture, and particularly our national treasury of tales, which have been retold afresh for each generation.

Each one of the 77 stories to be found in TALES OF BRITAIN – from the folktales of Dick Whittington, Robin Hood and King Arthur to heroes who deserve to be better known, like Mollie Whuppie, Bran the Blessed and Jack O’Kent – has been forged in performance to find the 21st century retelling to grab today’s audience, no matter what their age, gender, sexuality or creed. Some tales are moving, some bawdy, some downright weird, but above all, they have been retold with a crucial sense of anarchic fun, while restoring the true root of every legend in a way which should appeal to every Briton, whether first generation or thousandth – or indeed, lovers of great stories all around the world, from any background.

Inspiration for these Tales’ delivery comes not just from the magic of Dahl and Rowling, but the Grim Tales anarchy of Rik Mayall and Anthony Horowitz, the warmth of John Hurt’s Storyteller, and the enthusiasm of Tony Robinson’s Odysseus. What the Grimms did for German folklore, TALES OF BRITAIN will do for the British – with the added bonus that each story is rooted in the landscape, and so a tourist guide is provided for every tale, encouraging everyone to visit the places where each story ‘really happened’. Enjoy the tale on a Tuesday, and on Sunday afternoon, you can relive it.

This is not just a book, but a campaign, to enhance Britain’s standing as an island full of ancient story magic, and to revive and celebrate the shared culture of the United Kingdom, in a time of political uncertainty – and, above all, to have a lot of fun with it. With the enthusiastic support of #FolkloreThursday and an ever-growing online community of compassionate Britophiles and story lovers, this TALES OF BRITAIN collection is almost ready to share, and can be designed and released by Unbound as soon as the pledge target hits!



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Ebook edition
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A first edition of the paperback plus the ebook and your name in the list of Super Patrons in the front of the book.
  • Jem Roberts avatar

    Jem Roberts

    Born in Ludlow in 1978 and graduating from Aberystwyth University in 2000, Jem Roberts has a publishing heritage which goes back over 20 years, with extensive magazine experience – as well as being a performer, with shows all round the United Kingdom.

    Although he has made himself the biographer of choice for comedy’s elite – the official, authorised historian for I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, Blackadder, Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and now Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie, in 2017’s Soupy Twists – Jem has been a committed children’s writer for a lot longer.

    As a journalist, he edited titles including Pokémon World, Disney & Me and Disney’s Puzzle Land, and has been a contributor as storyteller for further publications – Muffin the Mule, Disney Girl, Winnie the Pooh and many more. His short story ‘Little Wee’ (about a very annoying baby llama) was published as part of charity fairytale collection Homespun Threads in 2012, and he continues to write his own tales as well as adapting traditional ones.

    These Tales of Britain are also performed live at folky, family and all kinds of events, with Jem as Brother Bernard, and children’s TV star Kate Harbour (Bob the Builder, Shaun the Sheep) as Sister Sal, and a podcast audiobook project is currently in the works.

    Jem Roberts lives in Bath, and finds the idea of moving very stressful.



    ‘Being bored at school is just the worst – especially when you skipped breakfast.’

    During King Arthur’s lifetime, in the hilly Brecon area of central Wales, there was a small but respected school in the tiny valleyside village of Llanspyddid. The students there were of all ages and abilities, but the brightest pupil of them all was probably Cadoc.

    He’s more commonly known as Saint Cadoc, but young Cadoc was certainly no saint. He yawned through his classes, gazed out of the window daydreaming at clouds, and spent more time doodling than studying. This wasn’t because he was a bad lad at all, he was just far too bright for the lessons taught by his boring old teacher, Bachan. Cadoc had already travelled through Britain and Ireland learning so much about life from all angles, but he had returned to his Welsh home and was forced to sit through tiresome lessons such as…

    ‘And that, boys and chaps, is how we know that God created the mermaid to test us all. Now, get out your Science textbooks, and I will tell you all how flat the Earth is, and how quickly the sun spins around it. ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME, CADOC?’

    Cadoc’s gaze left the window, and he turned to face his teacher in a flash. ‘Sorry, sir, no sir, I wasn’t!’ the dreamy lad replied – proving that he was anything but a liar. The teacher sighed, and continued to drawl his bad lessons to the dozy class.

    It wasn’t just that Cadoc was bored of hearing these silly ‘facts’ he was quite certain were all far from correct, either. It was a humming hot day and everyone in the classroom had only had half a handful of green oats and a few hawthorns to eat that week, and it was nearly suppertime. The whole valley for miles around was in the grip of a terrible famine, and no grain was being grown in the stodgy, rotten fields. Cadoc’s ribs were sticking out of his tunic, and sometimes he got so hungry he was tempted to teach himself how to eat leaves, like the goats.

    Suddenly, the teacher Bachan squealed, and leapt up onto his chair.

  • Jem Roberts has written 1 private update. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    29th October 2020 Samhain Announcement: TOB on Audible!

    This blog was originally posted before Hallowe'en, in time for TALES OF BRITAIN VOLUME 1 to be available on Audible. The whole idea was, rather than putting up the entire book, we'd do small volumes of themed books, seasonally released throughout a year or two, at very affordable prices, as Audible stuff is so overpriced. This first volume was filled with Halloween and Yule stories, to suit the end…

    23rd June 2020 Summer Storytelling!

    Happy Folklore Thursday, Tales-lovers!

    After a long spring lockdown's weekly stories, Brother Bernard has slipped back into his cave, but left a whole barrage of tales to enjoy at your leisure: TALES OF BRITAIN: THE SERIES!

    From Three Bears to Three Pigs, taking in Taliesin and Jack, Dildrum and Doldrum, seals, wolves, pixies and so much else besides, plus older retellings like the…

    18th June 2020 The Three Little Pigs: Huffing & Puffing

    A very WARM Folklore Thursday this week – and the last of our weekly lockdown stories!

    This all began because of the lovely feedback from home-schoolers about our second such tale – The Three Bears!

    And so it only seems right to come full circle, with a British story of three other heroic beasts! We were only going to do one or two of these, but we've kept it up for the whole season…

    11th June 2020 The Lancashire King of Cats

    No messing this week – one story, short, sharp, stupid: THE KING OF CATS!

    We have blogged about this daftness before HERE and also HERE.

    Stay safe, and relatively sane!

    28th May 2020 BEER! The Laird O'Co...

    The theme may be food, but we're going with BEER! Brother Bernard retells a Scottish folktale which is NOT in the book – exclusively for Folklore Thursday today! THE LAIRD O' CO!

    We've blogged about the story before HERE, but this is the first time we've shared it. Oh, and we must stress – Bernard wasn't drunk! It was VERY hot and he hadn't slept well, but he only had a sip for the story…

    20th May 2020 EPIC TALE! Jack & The Beanstalk

    As today's Folklore Thursday them is storyelling itself, Brother Bernard sets himself a challenge – to tell the longest tale in the whole book! We've blogged before about our most famous legend, JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, both here and here, setting our version on the South Downs, with the Long Man of Wilmington an obvious murder scene from early Saxon times...

    The panto fun was always much…

    14th May 2020 Thomas The Rhymer Retold

    Happy Folklore Thursday!

    It may seem like a cursed day,

    But then, it could be worse, eh?

    You could be in a hearse, say.

    That's enough bad poetry for one day. Let's have some AWESOME STORYTELLING instead!

    We've covered the history of TRUE THOMAS THE RHYMER of Earlston, Berwickshire before both HERE and HERE...

    But now we present a fresh retelling of it, especially for you bored…

    7th May 2020 The Verries of Pennard Castle


    A very festive and gender neutral Folklore Thursday to you people, HAIL THE QUEEN OF THE MAY and all the other Wicker Man tropes...

    Once again, a story we have covered in the past surfaces in fully-retold form! Lockdown had better not last much longer, or Brother Bernard will have performed the entire book... and we're starting our audiobook recordings later this year!…

    30th April 2020 Brutus: LAND AHOY!

    Happy and HEROIC Folklore Thursday, all!

    It's such an astonishingly long time since we wrote anything about Britain's origin story (give or take the odd family of giants) that the theme of heroes gives us a perfect example to revisit the legend of PRINCE BRUTUS OF TROY, the mythical founder of BRITAIN!

    We catch Brother Bernard in his kitchen for the weird (and in many ways rather Asterix…

    23rd April 2020 Babes In The Wood: Norfolk & Bad

    Yet another lockdown Folklore Thursday, and a by now almost traditional fresh retelling of an old English tale, out in the woods for this week's theme of FOREST SPIRITS! We present the terribly sad Medieval news itme of... BABES IN THE WOOD!

    As ever, we have covered the tragic (although the most tragic part is that it was turned into an adult sitcom by Jim Davidson) tale of the Babes In The…

    16th April 2020 Kingdom of the Seals

    Avast behind, and a braw Folklore Thursday to you all, my dears!

    For this week's theme of ANIMALS, here be a salty-sea-dog-type retelling of THE KINGDOM OF THE SEALS direct from Brother Bernard's bathtub!

    It would be a naughty falsehood to say this nasty wee tale was picked up at John O'Groats itself, it is very very far away. And I don't like kippers.

    But enjoy, and stay safe…

    9th April 2020 TALIESIN: REBIRTH!

    A very happy REBIRTH HOLIDAY OF YOUR CHOICE, dear folksters!

    This week's lockdown folktale is keeping with this Folklore Thursday's theme, by telling the ancient Welsh story of the rebirth of 'Little Gwion' into the greatest bard of them all, TALIESIN! We've blogged abut this bright young thing before here.

    Sheepishness is somewhat unavoidable in that this marks the third folktale retelling…

    9th April 2020 Scrapefoot & The Three Bears

    Happy Folklore Thursday from our own HOME AND HEARTH!

    Having breakfasted on porridge, we turn to a famous homely story which we've blogged about before: THE THREE BEARS! Here's Brother Bernard's fireside retelling... SCRAPEFOOT AND THE THREE BEARS!

    As mentioned above, and in the video, there's no Goldilocks in this story – that was a misogynistic addition by Victorian storytellers! Instead…

    9th April 2020 Good Times Will Return: The Shillington Goblins!

    Here's a totally unplanned little virtual storytelling session for those who are going stir crazy, wondering whether the merry times of cake and ale will ever return to the folk of Britain!

    They will. But now, be seinsible, be safe, be cosy, be warm… and enjoy some stories. Here's one which even features (almost) a song, to fit in with today's Folklore Thursday theme! We also blogged about it before…

    2nd April 2020 Conjuring Minterne's Mushroom

    While sending you the warmest lockdown be-well vibes this PLANT-based Folklore Thursday, we offer you a very short Dorset folktale – already covered once in these updates – CONJURING MINTERNE! Click HERE to enjoy!

    Come on, surely fungi counts as plants and herbs for this week's theme? Particularly as they form the basis of a magical herbal spell being cast by the Medieval magician in today…

    12th March 2020 Most Ignobly Done...

    Merry Folklore Thursday, story-adorers!

    A brief foray away from our 2020 hibernation to join in this week's fascinating theme of IMMORALITY, spun off from the recent reports of plagiarism shown by 'a UK folklore podcast', as outlined here by our friend Dee Dee

    Maybe it's not too surprising that the folklore world can attract some proper fruitcakes and offspring of female hounds – perhaps…

    20th February 2020 Tales of Britain: The Lost Art

    Testing, testing... blimey, still working.

    Happy Art-themed Folklore Thursday, my dearioes, here's a bonus bulletin from Brother Bernard to ceebrate the occasion.

    While I'm here, any suggestions of places to perform our specially-tooled Tales show this year? Email jem@jemroberts.com to express an  interest  – Ludlow and Cheltenham are the only dates at present!

    Now. Art. Or rather, 'art'…

    18th December 2019 Thank You – For Auld Lang's Syne

    MERRY YULE, Folklore Funsters!

    We know there's officially no Folklore Thursday this week, but as autumn ends and a new decade begins, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped make this launch year for us, after 15 years of hard work building up our database of stories, be it everyone at Unbound who worked on the book, everyone who supported – and continues to support – our…

    12th December 2019 PRESENTS!

    Dearest of folky funsters, at this chilly, wintry time of autumn, time becomes wickedly scarce, and expenses boom – sadly this difficult year we've not managed to find a spot to share our usual live Yule Show, and a week meeting Sinter Klaas in Holland leaves us short of time to spin an all-new retelling for this Winter Solstice… (AWW!)

    Yet what I can I give thee, gi-i-ive... FOUR STORIES!


    4th December 2019 The Celtic Trump

    Happy merry Sinter Klaas, Folklore Thursdayers!

    Being in Den Helder, NL for the arrival of St Nicholas from Spain, with all his presents and of course his sociologically complex pal Black Peter, I find myself ill-equipped to join in this week's theme of VILLAINY.

    Of course, some would argue that the theme is relevant to poor old Zwarte Piet here anyway: the blackfaced assistants of Saint…

    28th November 2019 A Tale Of Two Hills

    Greeting, story-adorers! There's nothing like a good mountain/hill theme for Folklore Thursday – let's be honest, at least 66% of all British folktales and folk songs seem to be in some way about hills. Or at least it often seems that way, and we are very spoiled for choice today...

    Admittedly, with all the horrifying daily cowpats to contend with in the current UK news and politics, probably…

    21st November 2019 THE TV STORYTELLERS

    Top of the Folklore Thursday, pop-pickers! 

    How fortuitous that today's theme is FILM & TV (Well, and books – here's a great book you might enjoy, and want to buy copious copies for everyone you've ever met: XMAS IS COMING!), because, as those of you who have been paying some attention will know, the Tales Of Britain storyteller Brother Bernard's alter-ego Jem Roberts is the official chronicler…

    14th November 2019 FREE TALE! The Weird Laddie

    … Okay, this story isn't actually called 'The Weird Laddie', but as this Folklore Thursday's theme is CHILDREN, it may as well be…

    This is actually the very odd Scottish legend THE LAIRD O'CO, as teased in this blog earlier in the year. The tale tells of a very odd faerie child (we actually kept them gender-irrelevant) who bothers the lord of the manor at Culzean Castle, in south west Scotland…

    7th November 2019 Howay The River Wear

    Had yer gobs, Folklore Thursday lovers, and we'll tell ye all about the River Wear. It's long and it's wet.

    But also, of course, it was the site of the death of THE LAMBTON WORM, somewhere in the Fatfield region now overlooked by the Penshaw Monument. It was only due to the rushing temes of the Wear that rock-hard young John Lambton could hack the foul endangered species to death without all its…

    31st October 2019 Free Ghost Story: The Kintraw Doonies

    Happy Samhain, and for that matter, Halloween!

    This is a truly terrifying one for me, as I'm moving house after 7 years. No haunting or monster could ever beat that.

    So it's a necessarily short blog this Folklore Thursday, but one with a FREE GHOST STORY for all! Brother Bernard's chilling retelling of THE KINTRAW DOONIES is attached, and you can also download it here.

    There's also…

    23rd October 2019 Merlin & The Monstrous Brexit

    Here's a story for you. It features the most horrific, revolting and deeply dangerous monster to threaten Albion for 80 years.

    Subtlety be blowed...

    In DINAS EMRYS, in North Wales, you will find, high on a hill, the remains of a very stupid British folly.

    Halfway through the first millennium, Britain had a very, very bad King – both in that he was cruel, selfish, conceited, lying and…

    17th October 2019 Underground In Angus

    Happy UNDERGROUND Folklore Thursday, dear tale-lovers!

    We have a special treat for you this week, all the way from the craggy shores of ANGUS – It's the weird subterranean tale of THE PIPER OF DICKMONTLAW, along with a mini-compendium of other stories of Scottish cave-dwellers. The sad story about Tammy Tyrie and his wife getting lost deep underground can only send shivers up your spine in…

    10th October 2019 Wisdom of the Fenland Elders

    Happiest of Folklore Thursdays to all – this week's theme of ELDERS brings to mind the local tale we performed at our recent joyful show in the little fenland village of THORNEY, Cambridgeshire, which shows the wisdom fo the elders of the fenlands – THE TIDDY MUN!

    Thank you so much to pledger Dorothy and all the folk who attended and bought books, Brother Bernard had a lovely time and it was well…

    3rd October 2019 Katharine Briggs: The First Tale Collector

    Merry Folklore Thursday, TOB-lovers! And it's another very welcome celebration of folkloric heroes on the F side of the gender spectrum today! As you can see, we have blogged about British folklore's great women many times over the years, even creating this (highly ironic, obv) answer to Disney's prettified figures of cultural appropriation...

    But how about we celebrate a different hero of…

    26th September 2019 Stewart Lee & The Scottish Spider

    Happy entomological Folklore Thursday, lovers of incy-wincy British justice!

    First of all, we're off up to Thorney near Peterborough tomorrow for our first Cambridgeshire show, and our last booked-in pledge reward show (still waiting to hear from Cheltenham and elsewhere!), and perhaps our penultimate show of the year, though there will definitely still be a Yule story session in Bath one way…

    19th September 2019 Ushering In Autumn In Canterbury

    The last Folklore Thursday of the summer, my dear folksters – hope it's a joyous one for all of you!

    The Autumn Equinox, Mabon, Harvest Festival, no matter what you like to call it, it's the perfect time, as the nights draw in, to gather around a fire and swap stories. And this Saturday at 4pm, we'll be doing just that at Canterbury's ancient Unicorn Inn at 4pm! This is the furthest east we…

    12th September 2019 Back To Hogwarts


    First of all, we have great news! Our first ever CANTERBURY LIVE SHOW has been confirmed for Saturday 21st September at 4pm, at The Unicorn Inn! It'll be a free hour of any tales you like, but we'll be sure to include actual Canterbury-set stories for sure! We've never performed that far east before, so we're dearly hoping to see plenty of eastern folklore fans…

    5th September 2019 The Rhymer & The Charmer

    Happy Folklore Thursday!

    First off, who in the Canterbury area fancies a FREE storytelling session on Saturday 21st of this very month? It will be the easternmost show we've ever done for sure, and currently we're waiting to hear back from The Shakespeare about whether they can accommodate us there, say 4pm, with books on sale? PLEASE give us a shout online if you'd be up for coming along...

    29th August 2019 Revenge of the Lambton Worm

    Monstrous Folklore Thursday to you all!


    We may have covered Tyne & Wear's famous hideous pest THE LAMBTON WORM last Halloween, but one of the many pleasures of our recent trip up to Edinburgh was the ability to finally stand in the real locations of places we've been telling stories about for years – and one of the many such sites managed on just one day this week, was this nasty old…

    22nd August 2019 The Wild King of Leicester

    A wild Folklore Thursday to you all!

    We are heading north from Londinium for this year's Scottish TOB show at the Edinburgh Fringe, this Saturday at 5pm! We have absolutely no permission to perform folktales in the park, so come along and see if Brother Bernard gets arrested! And guess where we've stopped off...?

    Where else could we choose to stop awhile than Caer Leir, the City founded…

    15th August 2019 Brownie Promise

    It's another fae-related Folklore Thursday, but here's a species we've not yet mentioned in our bloggage – THE BROWNIE!

    Last Saturday Brother Bernard could be found HOLLERING AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS in the middle of a storm in central Cardiff, and amid shouts of "THIS IS WHERE JO ROWLING GOT IT ALL FROM!" the opportunity was taken to perform, for the very first time, our retelling of THE BROWNIE…

    8th August 2019 The Blooming Of Blodeuwedd

    Happy Folklore Thursday, darlings! First of all, please do come and enjoy our storytelling session outside Cardiff Castle this Saturday at 3! Apparently it will be absolutely pissing it down, and you can't get any more Welsh than that!

    Now, petals. The mention of FLOWER FOLKLORE summons up one name above all for lovers of folktales – and you may have noticed it's a name which isn't in our existing…

    1st August 2019 Brother Bernard Is Unwell

    ... If you fancy TREE FOLKLORE today, here's The Whikey Tree and The Apple Tree Man.

    But, for the first time in two years and two months of diligent blogging even at the hardest, most stressful times, at the end of the hardest month ever experienced, this Folklore Thursday...

    Brother Bernard Is Unwell.

    See you next week – and hopefully in person at our Cardiff and Edinburgh shows.

    25th July 2019 Horror In Cider Country

    A warm Folklore Thursday to you, my dears, Nuada bless us.

    Local food, eh? Well anyway... BLACK VAUGHAN!

    Unbound's redesign seems to have obliterated the videos, so here's a mini-travelogue for you... 


    We've gone on about that bugger a few times in the past, and it just so happens that right now we're staying with family up in Ludlow, only…

    18th July 2019 Molly Whuppie: From Islay to America?

    A whoopy Folklore Thursday to all folktale-lovers! TALES OF BRITAIN, quite obviously, is a unique collection of tales all from one island, so today's ISLAND LORE theme sort of allows us to pick any of our 77 published stories! But a few do take place on the isles which spatter around the island of Great Britain – The Gift Horse and The Fairy Invasion on Jersey and Guernsey, The Silkie on Unst…

    11th July 2019 Sunshine In Shropshire

    Good weather-beaten Folklore Thursday,

    Only a brief blog this week, as your author is up in the homelands of South Shropshire having a sad family time, which you don’t need to hear about. But here’s a wee snippet I couldn’t resist adding to The Apple Tree Man, even though it was already a muddle of Somerset and Kent and anywhere apples matter:

    This is a wee bit of lore my Mum always quotes…

    4th July 2019 Merlin & The Dragons

    Happy animal Folklore Thursday, all! Hey, DRAGONS ARE ANIMALS TOO!

    They are in this story, anyway – or wyrms, if you prefer. It's about 16 months or so since The Beast From The East caused Brother Bernard to record a special story to make up for missing World Book Day at a school in Frome – which, with awful sound quality (sorry!), you can find here: VENGEANCE WILL COME. So we don't do this…

    27th June 2019 The Wild Hunt...

    ... Or The Feral Johnson? Sorry, couldn't resist...

    A flighty Folklore Thursday to you, dear readers! And happy Summer – you'll have noticed our blog is all updated, and blow us, what a lot of them there are: more than two years' worth!

    The theme of skies and stars threw us at first this week – because Tales of Britain is certainly a thoroughly land-based anthology. We thought, well, The Great…

    20th June 2019 Over The Hill


    To celebrate, we have a double birthday-themed blog to close Spring 2019 – as it was on Brother Bernard's 40th birthday last year that we visited TINTAGEL, the site of King Arthur's birth!

    But first, we just want to say thank you to everybody who enjoyed any of the 17 stories (and the one couple who enjoyed them all) performed to kick off the Ludlow…

    13th June 2019 Davy Jones & The Yellow Submarine

    Avast, ye folksters! And a very maritime Folklore Thursday to ye!

    There's a whole plethora of oceanic tales amongst the 77 in our book, of course – The Gift Horse's water sprite in Jersey, The Mermaid of Zennor, and so on. But we'll take a look at one aside which was slipped into the story of The Great Gormula, with reference to the Spanish galleon which sank off Tobermory in the 16th century…

    6th June 2019 Stones And Old Sods

    A very happy Folklore Thursday to all!

    We're sorry not to have a more detailed blog for today's 'stone and earth' theme, but there is a fair excuse – it's Brother Bernard's birthday today! If you remember, this time last year he was down in Cornwall to visit Arthur/Tristan & Isolde's home, at TINTAGEL.

    Of course, if you have the book (why don't you have the book?), you'll already know we…

    30th May 2019 Stranger In A Strange Land

    Happy Folklore Thursday, folktale-lovers!

    When we saw that this week's theme was 'strangers in strange lands', we blush to admit that we toyed with the idea of returning to the lore of The Isle of Man, a la The Fast Show – but that's a hoary old cliché for which we apologise unreservedly. Besides, we covered our Manx tale THE BUGGANE OF ST TRINIANS less than a year ago. 

    And so, what could be…

    23rd May 2019 Guernsey's Faerie History

    A happy-heppy and even huppy fairy-like Folklore Thursday to all!

    First of all, deep fruity thanks to everyone sweet enough to have added lovely reviews of the book, since the rather unpleasant illiterate review we received last week. It means so much to know that many of you are sharing these tales at bedtime every day, and that they are fuelling journeys to some of Britain's weirdest corners…

    16th May 2019 Puck In The New Forest: Cold Pixie Cave

    Happy Folklore Thursday, story-lovers! Have you reviewed our book online yet? Please do! And while we've got you here, we're still hoping to hear from Scottish folklore fans about our Scott Monument show in (obviously) Edinburgh on August 24th at 4.30pm. Please RSVP, we'd love to see you there!

    As you know, many pledge rewards were promised in the crowdfunding of the book, and all are being…

    9th May 2019 More Rhymes of Britain

    A very happy versifying Folktale Thursday to you all!

    First of all, do respond – jem@jemroberts.com – if you fancy a special Scottish storytelling session in Edinburgh this August 24th! Also, have you reviewed the book yet online...? Please do when you get a moment! Now, to the theme...

    Rhymes play a part in so many of our 77 tales, it's hard to pick out just one, so how about we share a missing…

    2nd May 2019 Festival Season!

    Hello! And what fortuitous theming those lovely Folklore Thursday types do come up with – because the topic of FESTIVALS allows us to talk about all the festival activity we have going on this summer!

    Uppermost in our minds is the full day we have ahead at THE LUDLOW FRINGE on Saturday 15th June. As you can see from the link, Brother Bernard has his work cut out keeping folk entertained at…

    25th April 2019 The Quest For Tales of Britain

    Greetings! As today's Folklore Thursday theme is 'quests, missions and adventures', this is the simplest blog we have had to post hitherto. We may have told the story of our quest to put an all-new anthology of British folktales on bookshelves in text form in the past, but now we can see what a long quest it has been – and our adventure is far from over... 

    Six years ago, a jumble of retold folktales…

    18th April 2019 Humpty: A Cannon and Egg Problem

    Ahhh, Easter – the unimaginably ancient time of rebirth, where we all get together to have that exhausting conversation about whether the festival stems from the pagan goddess 'Eoster', 'Ishtar', or anything of the like – or if, as smart-bums like to patronise us, that's as much bunkum as the Christian story about the carpenter and the capital punishment.

    We could rifle through our book's 77 folktales…

    11th April 2019 Long Live The King of Cats!

    A very happy pet-themed Folklore Thursday, everyone!

    Firstly, thank you to excellent children's author Ross Montgomery for being the first to review the book – it does mean an awful lot to get good feedback, especially from a pro storyteller, so please do take a moment to add your reviews to his, in the usual places, if you can…

    But today's story is one of my favourites. I have been asked…

    4th April 2019 The Liver Birds

    A gloriously feathery bird-themed Folklore Thursday to you all!

    Thank you to everyone who came to our London and Bath shows – particularly the little lad Ben who bought not just a book for himself and his little sister, but another for his school library! That concludes our pledge launches after all these years, but we still have three outstanding visits from Brother Bernard to co-ordinate with…

    28th March 2019 Home Springs Eternal


    First of all – our website has been updated with the latest season of blogs from here, and if you check out the media player, you'll also find Brother Bernard's appearance on Cerys Matthews' 6music show available for a cosy listen! Just click HERE for loads of folkloric goodness.

    And now, still off-theme, a note away from home! Monday was our first…

    21st March 2019 Rhymes Of Britain

    Happy musical Folklore Thursday! Only four days to our first ever London show – and nine to our Bath book launch! We dearly hope to see you at one of them if you're anywhere near the bottom half of this island...

    We should just take a moment to tell anyone reading who's either awaiting a cpy of Tales of Britain, you can order one here, as this book is needed all over the world, you won't find…

    14th March 2019 Saint Necessarily So

    Happy Folklore Thursday! Have you made your plans to come to our BIG EXCITING BOOK LAUNCHES in LONDON and BATH yet? Brother Bernard and Sister Sal can't wait to see you there!

    Just a brief blog this week, as stories of those Christian oddballs some call SAINTS are one of the things we have largely avoided in the book. From our own experiences wading through books of British lore, amid all the…

    7th March 2019 Standing On The Shoulders of Giantesses...

    ... If you'll forgive the gendered term. Still, HAPPY WORLD BOOK DAY and INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY EVERYONE! First of all, THANK YOU so much for sharing your excitements at the arrival of the book at last, perfect timing for such an auspicious day, please do keep them coming!

    Today Brother Bernard is off at the Merlin Theatre in Frome entertaining the Year 9s and 10s of Frome School – he was supposed…

    4th March 2019 A Traveller's Tale

    Happy Monday, Tales-lovers, from the Travellers' Tavern next to Victoria Coach Station; consider this a telegram en route home, March is a ricochet of Bath-London and back from here on in...

    If you missed our gorgeous chat with Cerys Matthews on BBC 6music yesterday morning, it's on Listen Again here, and will be uploaded to talesofbritain.com when it drops off the iPlayer. 

    It was a nerve…

    28th February 2019 PUBLICATION DAY! The Journey Continues...

    A very happy and auspicious FOLKLORE THURSDAY to you all!

    We would say who needs a theme this week, when, after 15 years of very hard work, of dreaming and hoping, this week TALES OF BRITAIN FINALLY ARRIVED ON OUR DOORSTEP!? But thank you to Folklore Thursday for such a perfect theme, of TRAVEL AND JOURNEYS, as suggested by our recent article for the Folklore Thursday website

    We have indeed…

    21st February 2019 Wayland the Smith, And Other Artists

    Happy Folklore Thursday, to all our fellow ARTISTS!

    How exciting! Our book is headed from the printers right into our open arms, a work of art which has taken us up to 15 years to make a reality, with your kind help!

    Crucially, some of you pledged good money for extra perks, and we need to hear from you ASAP about how we can honour those promises to you. We're particularly keen to arrange…

    14th February 2019 Tristan 4 Isolde 4eva

    A very LOVELY Folklore Thursday to you all, this Valentines!

    The usual FT crew may be taking the day off, but we can at least give you a very crucial update – a week after a horrifying false alarm when Amazon messed up its setting on our eBook, so it looked like the book was cancelled... we can finally reveal that, despite some over-ambitious early release date teasing beyond our control, and all…

    7th February 2019 Tales of... Where Next?

    Happy Worldwide Folklore Thursday, pledgers!

    Well, we had a bit of a wobbly day yesterday when emails went out suggesting that our eBook had been cancelled, but thankfully it turned out to be just an Amazon blip. We do so hope that's the last negative tremor we feel, and that the book's release will now forge ahead without a hitch. Not least as we've already been on TalkRadio and BBC Shropshire…

    31st January 2019 77 Stories To Rule Them All...

    Happy Folklore Thursday, and happy National Storytelling Week to boot, Tale-lovers! You want to discuss folktales? We have 77 to choose from, each with tourist guides! Who else can claim that this story-steeped Thursday? The question is, which to start with? The familiar famed folklore of Robin Hood, King Arthur, Jack or Godiva? Or the stories which deserve more love, like Molly Whuppie, Bran the…

    24th January 2019 The Gift Horse: You Know What They Say...


    Those of you keeping a close eye on the release date for our book may be wondering what's happening on this delayed day of release and celebration – hold tight, we're sure the clouds will clear soon! This has been such a long and painful journey, but we're so close! At the time of writing, Amazon is showing NEXT Thursday... so let's keep everything crossed…


    Merry Folklore Thursday! Families, places and communities is the theme? Nothing could more perfectly sum up TALES OF BRITAIN!

    However, keen supporters of our campaign may be wondering where our big launch announcement is, as 17th January has been on the Amazon page for our book for a long time... but it looks like the release has been delayed a week. This is such an odd time to release a book,…

    10th January 2019 WORK WORK WORK... HELP!


    Or, it would be a workaday Thursday, had your author managed to rise from his sickbed by now, but – despite having a gig at THE FLIPPING BRITISH LIBRARY on Sunday, sadly this is one storyteller whose tubes are still full of gunk and nastiness. Wish us well…

    Despite this, of course, the work has to go on – and now, with the…

    3rd January 2019 FIRST-FOOTING!


    And, for that matter, happy first Folklore Thursday of 2019!

    Except… it’s not as happy as we’d like, as your storyteller is currently in bed, in quarantine, with a chest heaving with burning demons and pained spirits. 2019 kicking off with a massive cold is not quite the jolly new beginning we were hoping for, but what…

    20th December 2018 MERRY YULE, AND MARI LWYD!

    Happy festive Folklore Thursday everybody!

    Please find attached this year’s totally bonus ‘brand new’ yule story, for all you lovely pledgers – MARI LWYD. As you know, our book is more about tales than ‘lore’, but thanks to those lovely folks at folkwales.org.uk, there seemed just enough of a plot surrounding that Victorian vicar to wind a pleasing wee narrative around. We hope you agree! And…



    First of all, we can't wait to see as many of your as possible at this year's LIVE YULE SHOW in Bath on Saturday afternoon. There will be one or two traditional yule tales repeated from last year's show, but lots of fresh tales to enjoy too, including our panto-ish rendition of DICK WHITTINGTON…

    6th December 2018 A Saxon Yule Feast: THE LAST YULE


    With only a week and a bit to go until our 2018 YULE special live show maybe we shouldn't be sharing free stories, but well, it's Xmas, so do find linked above the full – and rather boozy – one-man rendition of THE LAST YULE, last year's free Xmas story for you all,…

    29th November 2018 Robin Redbreast's Snowy Mission

    I hope you're all wonderfully wrapped up this cold and damp Folklore Thursday!

    It's not quite feeling festive just yet, but today's snowy theme suggests perhaps the simplest tale of the 77 in our book – a yuletide tale enjoyed by Rabbie Burns as a tiny tot, THE MARRIAGE OF ROBIN REDBREAST.

    This seems to be one of the very rare tales we haven't yet blogged about, but it's hardly surprising…

    22nd November 2018 It's... Panto Folklore! Oh Yes It Is.

    HAPPY FOLKLORE THURSDAY, BOYS AND GIRLS! And anyone else anywhere they like on the spectrum.

    When we discovered that this week's Folklore Thursday theme was THEATRE, we wasted up to a minute trying to think which of our 77 tales were relevant – the welsh harp player in 'Vengeance Will Come'? The play acting of the locals in 'The Wise Folk of Gotham'? Then the obvious occurred – right now we're…

    15th November 2018 SEAQUAKE! The Drowning of Cantre'r Gwaelod

    Well I have to say, dear Folklore Thursday types – 'volcanoes and earthquakes' is a rather unfair theme for a collection of British folktales! We don't get much in the way of streams of lava over here in Blighty, so a spot of creative thinking is required...

    Natural disasters, of course, proliferate in our collection – but they are more typically of the very wet kind, and essentially Welsh…

    8th November 2018 Community Folk Magic From Tintagel to Edinburgh

    Merry Folklore Thursday, all in our wonderous community!

    Folk magic and community traditions, you say? Hmm, well in specific folktale terms, the one tale of our 77 which most perfectly encapsulates the concept would be THE TIDDY MUN – generally we shy away from such basic superstitions, folklore is awash with that kind of thing, but there's our little concession to it all...

    Except, of course…

    1st November 2018 Our Hero, TERRY JONES

    A heroic Folklore Thursday to you all, and to pledgers especially!

    If you will forgive your author’s unusual stepping out from underneath Brother Bernard’s green velvet cowl, this is a rather tricky and sensitive blog which has been in the offing for quite a while, but how to go about it? Rather than focussing on one British folktale, today we’re celebrating one British HERO – Python, movie director…

    25th October 2018 Black Vaughan's Revenge: HALLOWEEN TALES!

    MWAH-HA-HA-HAAAA! SAMHAIN APPROACHETH, LOYAL PLEDGERS! Here's wishing you a very Happy Halloween from Brother Bernard, Sister Sal and all at Tales of Britain! 

    If you have the slightest chance of making it to Somerset on Saturday afternoon, seek out the RING O'BELLS in Widcombe, five minutes' walk from Bath Spa train station, where we'll be performing a whole hour of spooky stories as part of our…

    18th October 2018 Be Afraid: Of THE LAMBTON WORM!

    Howay, a f-f-f-frightful Samhain-ish Folklore Thursday to you all, lovely pledgers!

    As we observed last week, our road atlas of 77 tales is bursting with beasts enough to terrify everyone to the grave and back, and we shall be featuring four such scary stories in our first ever Samhain/ Halloween show in Bath a week on Saturday! Brother Bernard and Sister Sal will share with you legends including…

    11th October 2018 The Exorcism of Jan Tregeagle

    Spooky Folklore Thursday to all! 

    As we mentioned a season ago, on holiday in Tintagel, staying in Bodmin led us to discover the 400-year-old legend of JAN TREGEAGLE, and despite it being a ghost story, we couldn't resist spending an afternoon retelling the legend afresh – even though, being written so long after delivery of our manuscript, this is one story which won't be found among the 77 in…

    4th October 2018 The Loch Ness Story

    A monstrously jolly Folklore Thursday to you, pledgers!

    We may be running short of Tales we haven't blogged about, but there's still a certain amount of shiftiness in celebrating this ANIMAL-themed week with the tale of Nessie, the last of the dinosaurs who lives up in the deep waters of Northern Scotland.

    Admittedly, her qualification as an animal is slightly circumspect, but more to the…

    27th September 2018 Stone Dogs & Dragon Hills in the New Forest

    Happy Folklore Thursday, folks!

    Folklore of Objects? Well, here's one – what does this stone dog have to do with British folklore? Perhaps it will help if we add that it is one of two stone bull mastiffs which decorate the entrance to a place called Bisterne House, the New Forest seat of the ancient Berkeley dynasty – one of whom, Sir Maurice de Berkeley, was said to have defeated a vicious…

    20th September 2018 TALIESIN and the Turning of the Seasons

    A heart harvest Folklore Thursday to all your campaign supporters!

    As we enter our sixth season of weekly blogging, it's a rare feat to find one of our 77 tales we haven't blogged about, and even moreso to be able to theme it to the weekly topic. But while other stories we have covered may have more immediate pertienence to autumn and harvest – Jack O'Kent's crop-based deals with The Devil…

    13th September 2018 Travelling By Bear: The Green Glen

    Happy Folklore Thursday, folksters!

    It is, I fear, a necessarily rushed folktale blog this week, due to a double deadline clashing with the book launch for Soupy Twists in London on Wednesday, and then a recording of Great Lives on Douglas Adams for Radio 4 in Bristol today. And then, after all that metropolitan publicity, I'm spending the weekend in a tent at the countryside, wrapped in a green…

    6th September 2018 Fairyland In The Border: Thomas The Rhymer

    We wish you an otherworldly Folklore Thursday, dear Tales pledgers!

    Hectic times over here, given that this Folklore Thursday is also publication day for SOUPY TWISTS – the official biography of Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie, otherwise known as 'The Book That Came Before Tales of Britain'!

    But of course there's always time to share a special themed blog with you lovely folksters... however,…

    30th August 2018 Thumbs Up For Tattershall Tom

    A bear hug for you all this Folklore Thursday!

    First off, a thank you to all who came to the Waverley in Edinburgh a week ago today for our Scottish debut, where we got away with doing Molly Whuppie with all the accents. Maybe a Thursday lunchtime isn't the best time for any kind of gig, but we were outnumbered by the audience, which is some kind of achievement at the Edinburgh Fringe.


    23rd August 2018 Rub-a-Dub-Dub: The Madness of GOTHAM

    Busy Folklore Thursday, dear folksters – our first ever Scottish storytelling show kicks off at Waverley Bar as part of the Free Fringe at 1pm!

    There are so many tales among our 77 full of rhyme and song, but so little time today! But we do just have time to consider the silly old British rhyme of 'Rub-a-Dub-Dub' – at least inasmuch as it is brought to mind by the madness of the folk of the Nottinghamshire…

    16th August 2018 The Kintraw Doonies: Christianity vs Faeries

    Merry Folklore Thursday, lovelies!

    Thank you to everyone of all ages and smells who came along to the Bath Folk Festival show last Saturday – yes, even baby Robyn who joined in with a fair few tales. It was one of Brother Bernard's best solo shows yet, though we really hope to get a few folktale fans at our first ever Scottish show a week today – 1pm at the Waverley Bar, as part of the Free Fringe…

    9th August 2018 Who Needs Hogwarts? Merlin at Dinas Emrys

    Well, salagadoolah, menchikaboola, and bibbiti-bobbiti-boo to all TALES OF BRITAIN pledgers this MAGICKAL MAGICIAN-THEMED FOLKLORE THURSDAY!

    First of all, please do forgive the plug, but this is our last chance to alert you to our show for the Bath Folk Festival on Saturday – the very first item in the whole festival indeed, at St. James Wine Vaults, Bath at 3pm! Bernard is performing solo, with…

    2nd August 2018 Pennard Castle: A Verry Fine Feast

    A fine, feast-filled Folklore Thursday to all!

    We love a feasting theme – so many of our tales involve food, it gives us almost carte blanche. Knucker Pie? The Apple Tree Man? The Shillington Goblins all partying away? No, this week we make a return to Wales, and a look at the wild feasting party which led to the Gower fortification of Pennard Castle being buried under a mountain of sand!


    26th July 2018 British Folklore: The Stories So Far...

    Happy Folklore Thursday, pledgers! As today's theme is folklore from around the world, we're taking the very rare chance to not feature any specific story – they are all British, after all – and give an update on where we stand.

    You know why this campaign has been fought for so long, and why we will continue far beyond this book's release. There are endless books of random lore, myriad non-fiction…

    19th July 2018 MACBETH: A Deed Without A Name...

    Hail to thee, O Tales pledgers... a foul and fair ritulatistic Folklore Thursday!

    You may have received emails this week saying our book has now reached the next stage of production. The strictures of the digital deal we had to make when we moved from Unbound's inflated original target mean having to make so many huge concessions with design – but the main thing is, the WORDS! 77 retold folktales…

    12th July 2018 BEGIN THE BUGGANE!

    Happy and indeed proud Folklore Thursday to one and all this week of #Pride – and good one to the FT gang for recognising it in this week's theme!

    You may have picked up by now that – besides having a laugh and promoting tourism to each story's location – a crucial part of our Tales of Britain campaign is the long overdue de-toxifying of our national folklore, examining what makes our best…

    5th July 2018 Milky Milky: Mitchell's Fold & Shropshire's Blue Remembered Hills

    Thank you to everyone who came along to the Ludlow Fringe Tales of Britain show on Saturday! By the end of local tale The Stokesay Key, Welsh tale Vengeance Will Come and very silly Scottish yarn The Brown Bear of the Green Glen – plus bonus request Jack O'Kent & The Devil – the hat contained enough money to more than cover the horrendous train fare up from Bath, so nil desperandum!

    The past…

    28th June 2018 You Don't Know Jack...

    This blog marks a FULL YEAR of providing you with weekly blogs for Folklore Thursday! And as Unbound has not yet provided us with a release date for this book we're all anticipating so warmly, we must prepare ourselves for at least another few dozen, even though most blogs are centred on one tale, and we have 77 in total. When time allows, we'll start trying to migrate all this hard work to a…

    21st June 2018 Tiddy Mun, The Weather's Thruff!

    Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks – or indeed, enjoy the lovely sunshine this solstice, ye folktale-pledgers!

    This here is the Ancholme valley in eastern England – or at least, a particularly pretty bit of it, the result of centuries of drying out the biggy land and finding ways to live and capitalise on every square foot, despite the area's natural sogginess. There's a very particular piece…

    14th June 2018 London Pride Has Been Handed Down To Us...

    ... London Pride, is a beer that's RANK! Merry Folklore Thursday, me old cocker-knee sparras!

    After last week's birthday shenanigans in Kernow, it looked like we'd been confronted with another major challenge for this week's Urban/City theme – because the idea that we hadn't covered DICK WHITTINGTON in any of the last year's blogs seemed absurd!

    Dick Whittington's fictionalised life story…

    7th June 2018 Happy Birthday To Us: In TINTAGEL!

    Happy birthday to Folklore Thursday, and happy birthday to Brother Bernard too!

    Now, this is uncanny. After completing nearly a year of annual blogs themed to Folklore Thursday’s lovely whims, this is the week we were planning to give ourselves the week off – 'Tales of Britain Is On Holiday, in Tintagel!' – due to Brother Bernard hitting the terrifying milestone of 7,040!

    But then, thanks…

    31st May 2018 Art of the Landscape: Wade & Bell in Whitby

    I hope everyone's feeling creative for this Artistic Folklore Thursday...? We think we win this week, as we have two artists who created the actual landscape itself!

    This is Wade's Causeway, which you'll find in the Whitby area of North Yorkshire – some call it a Roman road but, like many a 'Roman road', it's been around a lot longer than the Romans – because it was built thousands of years…

    24th May 2018 THERE MIGHT BE GIANTS: Round the Wrekin

    OW BIST THEE, FOLKLORE LOVERS? (In my Shropshire voice.)

    'Creature Lore' is a wide open goal for Tales of Britain – we're well stocked with so many flavours of little people, from mystical faeries to the 'duergar' of the Scottish borders, and then there's a whole menagerie of vicious scaly things, not just worms and dragons but the Saffron Cockatrice and many more, and there are trolls, and…

    17th May 2018 A Funny Old Game: Elidor & The Golden Ball

    We hope this sporting Folklore Thursday finds you all cheering!

    We're afraid our crowd of lovely backers has stopped growing – though admittedly we are spending more time worrying about when we will hear back about the latest manuscript copy-edit than actually spreading the word, particularly when there will be so much noise to create when the book is finally available to buy! We can confirm that…

    10th May 2018 Ye Gods: Wayland & Flibbertigibbet in Oxfordshire

    BY TOUTATIS! Is it Folklore Thursday again already? Gods almighty...

    Ferretting out a God-themed tale from our 77 British stories is a taller order than you might think. Probably our most theological tale of all, LONG MEG AND HER DAUGHTERS, is not only all about how we don't need gods or religion, but it's also... well, already been blogged about. Obviously. The thing is, unlike Norse, Greek…

    3rd May 2018 A Home-Grown Story: Britain's Famous Porky Trio

    A happy 'Hearth & Home' Folklore Thursday to all!

    This is our 43rd update since we launched last June – a trifle early, due to hoping to attract Glasto punters – and with 77 tales in our collection, we wonder how long we can keep this up, with fresh tales every week tying in to @FolkloreThurs' changing themes. In particular, we were hoping that the 77 tales would deliver a fair few lovely surprises…

    26th April 2018 The Fiery Leap Of Conjuring Minterne

    A toasty FIRE-themed Folklore Thursday to each of our lovely 300 backers!

    We're still trying to find places to do our storytelling show in CORNWALL in early June, and EDINBURGH/GLASGOW in late August (Please email bernard@talesofbritain.com or jem@jemroberts.com if you can help!) but for today's fiery theme, we're headed to Batcombe – and be careful, as there's more than one Batcombe, we're…

    19th April 2018 Body Horror: Sigurd & The Severed Head

    It's a BODY themed Folklore Thursday! If only we hadn't used up the far more pleasurable connotation of the theme by blogging about Lady Godiva several weeks ago, we could avoid this nastiness. But as it is, let's delve into the body-horror of SIGURD'S HOWE...

    A violent and nasty tale from the north Scottish coast and Orkney, this story is anchored in the titular Sigurd's Howe – a burial…

    12th April 2018 LUKKI MINNIE: Fair Isle's Bad Luck Trow

    Good luck to you this Folklore Thursday, TOB-backers!

    Many folktales could be said to be filled with good luck and bad, fortunes rising and falling, so we've double-themed our tale for this LUCK-LORE Folklore Thursday by focusing on that scourge of the Shetland Isles, LUKKI MINNIE!

    There's very very little to go on when it comes to this hideous trow from the far-northerly leas of Far Isle…

    5th April 2018 Zennor's Woman Of The Sea

    Happy oceanic Folklore Thursday, all! 299 backers! How exciting! Who wants to be the next...?

    And this week's Maritime theme has suggested quite a rarity for us of late – a very simple tale, with no need for updates, switched genders or altered angles, and with an extremely solid location where the story took place centuries ago, unquestionably worth a visit – THE MERMAID OF ZENNOR!


    29th March 2018 The Three Bears: Hold The Goldilocks!

    Good gracious and merry Folklore Thursday to all TOB-backers! We reached the coveted 150% funded level, hooray! If you've not taken the plunge yet, maybe today you can push our campaign even further, because the more budget we raise, the smoother the book's journey to your hands will be!

    Today's theme of Nature and Wildlife rather poleaxed us – it could almost comprise any of our 77 tales,…

    22nd March 2018 The Green Bird of Bala: VENGEANCE WILL COME!

    A chirpy Folklore Thursday to you all, faithful folksters – let's see if we can nudge our total up to 150% this sunny spring day!

    The chosen theme of BIRD FOLKLORE does not chime with a huge array of our 77 tales – birds crop up in tales, fluttering around the Babes in the Wood or having a wart cut off their ear, like the Eagle of the Green Glen – and of course, Rab Burns' Robin Redbreast has his…

    15th March 2018 THE HEDLEY KOW: Money Can't Buy You Happiness

    Happy Folklore Thursday to all the lovely folkies in the Tales of Britain campaign!

    It's actually quite nice to have such a relatively uncomplicated theme this week – MONEY. And the first of our 77 tales to come to mind is also one of the first we retold many years ago – THE HEDLEY KOW.

    ©John D Batten

    The tale's simplicity is one of its many appeals, and to summarise it runs the risk…

    8th March 2018 Tales of Britain Princesses & The Saffron Cockatrice

    Happy Folklore Thursday AND International Women's Day, folkie folks!

    Whatever you think about Disney's 'Princesses', as you can see, our 77 tales offer our own pantheon of women heroes. We're not short of legendary Queens, Princesses and powerful protagonists aplenty – one of our core drives has always been to make up for millennia of damsels in distress being handed over to male heroes as…

    1st March 2018 VENGEANCE WILL COME!

    Here's an unexpected second blog in one day for all you folksters out there, in honour of World Book Day 2018, and of course, St. David's Day!

    I was supposed to be presenting our first ever schools event this afternoon, for Frome College at the well-monikered Merlin Theatre! But, the snow has put paid to that, and so poor Brother Bernard risked his fingertips shouting in the cold like this.

    1st March 2018 The Rose & The Root: Tam-Lin & The YA Conundrum

    A glorious Gardening-themed Folklore Thursday to you, green-fingered folkies!

    Although it's snowing so heavily our World Book Day event at Frome College and the Merlin Theatre has been cancelled, and it's St David's Day, so a tale about Scottish summer flowers could not be less apposite. Nonetheless, NOW READ ON...

    Our copy-edited manuscript of 77 tales with tourist guides was just being tweaked…

    22nd February 2018 Welcome To The Greenwood

    O valiant Tales-of-Britain-backers, I hope the sun is shining through the leaves with you this Folklore Thursday!

    Tree folklore is such a fish in a barrel for our collection of 77 tales – although many of the most obvious candidates, like The Apple Tree Man and The Whikey Tree, have already been blogged for your reading pleasure. 

    So which figure from British mythology do we most associate with…

    15th February 2018 Babes In The Wood: Suitable For Minors?

    Happy childhood-themed Folklore Thursday, lovely little TOB-backers!

    These signs are proudly displayed in the Norfolk village of Griston and town of Watton, testifying to the areas near Wayland Woods as the site of the original events which gave us the story of the Babes In The Wood. For all the tale's development as a fun pantomime every Xmas, all the added jollity of the babes being taken…

    8th February 2018 Tristan & Isolde: Britain's Greatest Love Story?

    Happy lovey-dovey Folklore Thursday, sexed-up Tales-backers!

    As fans of racist tunesmith Dicky Wagner will know well, Cornwall is the home of perhaps the greatest love story in mythology – those Italian kids in Verona be blowed. The legend of Tristan & Isolde is also a rather good testcase for the variety you'll find in our collection of 77 tales...

    As we're proud to repeat, our greatest…

    1st February 2018 The King of Cats & Folkie Days Out!

    Happy Folklore Thursday, TOB-backers!

    Due to annoyances involving hospitals and other unpleasant things, we had no time to wait for the Folklore Thursday theme this week, and so we're very relieved that the theme is 'favourite tales' as that gives us over 77 to choose from! We don't really have any one favourite, but this is always a joy, so we've gone for one of the most nebulous and slight tales…

    25th January 2018 FOOD, FAMINE & FOLKLORE

    Another foody Folklore Thursday, another Folklore Thursday of food...

    It was unsurprising that the first tale which came to mind when we heard about today's foody theme was THE KNUCKER – but that would be because we already wrote that blog last September! So instead, we turn to the complete absence of food, and a tale which has been here in plain sight since we launched TALES OF BRITAIN at Glastonbury…

    18th January 2018 No Clothes Please, We're British

    Happy Folklore Thursday, Tale-Lovers! Have you told anyone today that we'll soon be launching the first full British folklore collection in GENERATIONS? Blow some minds, spread the word!

    Now, with today's Folklore Thursday theme being CLOTHES, we hope this doesn't count as facetiousness two weeks running, but the first of our 77 tales to leap to mind was one of our very favourite – LADY GODIVA…

    11th January 2018 A Hard Day's Knight

    We’re very glad to see that this week’s theme is WORK because what could be harder WORK than being a Knight? What’s the worst job you ever had? Did it involve slaying dragons, or indeed having your head cut off? No, well, there we are then. Hardest job in the world, gallant Knight.

    Okay, most tangential theming ever, we know, but the truth is we couldn’t hold out any longer on singling out…

    4th January 2018 New Beginnings: BRUTUS, LAND AHOY!

    A very very happy 2018 to Britophile story lovers everywhere! But particularly to everyone out there who realises just how momentous it is that we're all working together this year to launch the first full treasury of British tales in at least 30 years! This is a literary revolution to unite the nation in a love for storytelling, and all of us involved should feel very proud. Right now the process…

    21st December 2017 142%? HAPPY YULE!

    Well, there we are then, absolute confirmation, that TALES OF BRITAIN is now marching towards your homes as we speak – Xmas downtime aside. And as originally promised, we did actually hit 42% as well!

    The above isn't strictly true, the manuscript was delivered on Halloween, and we're hoping for a late spring/early summer release. That's a very quick turnaround, and we have yet to decide…

    14th December 2017 THE LAST YULE!

    A very merry Folklore Thursday and a happy new book, pledgers!

    It has gone all-too silent, deep, crisp and peaceful since our BIG ANNOUNCEMENT last week, and if you're disappointed that the promised switch hasn't yet occured, we can only offer you solidarity! No word has come through about what our situation is, but hopefully we won't all be left hanging over the festive season. As it is, we have…

    8th December 2017 TALES OF BRITAIN IS GO?!


    This blog was originally intended to be incredibly tangentially connected to yesterday's Folklore Thursday theme of Urban Myths – you see, there is an urban myth that the number 42 is the answer to the Ultimate Question, of Life, The Universe and Everything. Well, as Douglas Adams' official biographer, I have to say, it's not so much…

    7th December 2017 BLACK SHUCK: Urban Myth!

    Happy Folklore Thursday, all! This is a novelty – an emergency blog! A few gremlins to battle behind the scenes before we make our yuletide announcement. But as today's #FolkloreThursday theme is Urban Myths, nothing fits the bill better than one of Britain's most famous 'monsters' – BLACK SHUCK.

    We explicitly state in our pitch that one of the problems with British folklore books is the sheer…

    30th November 2017 BEWARE THE CAT!

    NOTE TO ALL FOLKTALE LOVERS – we've messaged all social media followers individually, but despite that, we have only 275 pledges from nearly 2,000 followers, which seems a bit of a discrepancy. We have exciting news imminent, but we hope to see a boost soon anyway. Have you pre-ordered? Have you told friends? We need to pull together to really get this crucial campaign spread further. Please help…

    23rd November 2017 BEDDGELERT: A Good Doggy

    Merry Pet-themed Folklore Thursday, dear Tales-backers! Exciting news due soon, but for now, let's talk dogs.

    Actually, after last week's treatise on the real basis of legends, with KING LEIR, sadly this week we have to face up to a bit of relatively recent myth-making, when it comes to the tragic story of the Welsh Prince Llewelyn, and his trusty dog, Gelert. 

    This is a particularly sad…

    16th November 2017 BLOW, WINDS, AND CRACK YOUR CHEEKS!

    Here's wishing a clement Folklore Thursdays to all our backers! 40% – let's see how quickly we can get up to the mythical 42%, pledge or get someone to pledge TODAY!

    For this terribly British weather-themed Folklore Thursday, we were tempted to visit the Ancholme Valley to become acquainted with The Tiddy Mun, the people's saviours in times of drought... but when it comes to weather and British…

    9th November 2017 ARE YOU LOCAL?

    Of all the Folklore Thursday themes to throw us, 'Local Lore' is the toughest – we have 77 tales, all chosen to be local to everyone on this island, with at least one never more than a Sunday afternoon's drive away from any Brit. Should we head to the North-East to explore the silliness of The Hedley Kow? Or visit the Kingdom of Seals up on the north coast of Scotland? Or plumb the depths of the villainous…

    2nd November 2017 See The Little Goblins...

    Skeleton lore is today's Folklore Thursday theme? Oh dear... we thought you said SHILLINGTON LORE! We don't have any skeletons in our closet, but we do have a wonderful story about party animal goblins, which reminds us all of the importance of having a flipping good time.

    But first! It's a momentous week for Tales of Britain, as we have formally delivered the manuscript to Unbound. Of course,…

    26th October 2017 Tam O'Shanter's Halloween Dash

    Happy Samhain, and Folklore Thursday, our dear diabolical TOB-pledgers!

    First of all, thank badness for Folklore Thursday's theme this week – we were never intending to offer anything but Halloween frights this week anyway! And we'd already started early with the ghostly lore with last week's look at HERNE THE HUNTER!

    But when it comes to witches – and even more specifically, Scottish witches…

    20th October 2017 BLESSED NEWS!

    Hello, your friendly neighbourhood storyteller Jem Roberts here – I try to hide myself away as much as I can, but when it comes to a certain mountaineering legend, it gets personal.

    Before we all go off to our lovely weekends – on which you could explore the story-dwelling sites of Britain, had we reached 100% – I just wanted to shout excitedly about two wonderful people who have just joined our…

    19th October 2017 GreenFire: Herne the Hunter & Windsor Castle

    Happy Folklore Thursday! Lots of love to the sainted 256, but we need to be at least another 100 strong before TALES OF BRITAIN goes into production at last! Keep the faith strong! This Saturday at 3pm we will be kicking off half-term at Bath's Rondo Theatre with TALES OF BRITAIN LIVE, packed with dragons, pigs, pies, battles and bogles! brother Bernard and Sister Sal hope to see you there...


    12th October 2017 Jersey: The Cream

    Happy Folklore Thursday, dear pledgers! 35% up the mountain, and no time to set up camp!

    We're rather spoiled for choice with today's @FolkloreThursday theme of 'Island lore', as all 77 of our tales could be called Island lore! We have stories from Shetland, the Orkneys, a whole host of Hebridean islands, the Isles of Man and Wight, and the Channel Islands. But we've plumped for one of the furthest…

    5th October 2017 Robert Henryson: The Scatalogical Scribe

    Happy Folklore Thursday! Pre-orders are coming in spits and spots, but it's possible that a way to smooth our way forward may be found – watch this space for updates, but all those of you who share our passion for getting this roadmap of tales into shops, and into your hands, will have your kindnesses rewarded! In the meantime, any scheme that occurs to anyone out there to spread the word and get…

    3rd October 2017 The Land of the Green Man

    It's unusual both to blog on any day but Folklore Thursday, and to write about any book other than our own roadmap of British tales, but having just come to the end of Professor Carolyne Larrington's The Land of the Green Man, it's hard to resist offering a recommendation to all our pledgers. When Tales of Britain launched back in late summer, the passionate cries of there being nothing out there…

    28th September 2017 The Wizards Of Radio

    A magickal – with a K – Folklore Thursday to all our lovely pledgers! We're now into the middle third of crowdfunding, and we hope that one or two big announcements in the offing will give us a leg-up to the next level, but until then, please do keep spreading the word, and if you haven't yet pre-ordered a copy of this all-new roadmap of British stories, choose an option from the list on the right…

    21st September 2017 It Is Time For Your Appointment... with The Apple Tree Man.


    Before we dive into this week's themed tale, we're positively fizzy with excitement not only to be 1/3 funded, but also to announce that the tickets for the next TALES OF BRITAIN LIVE at the Rondo Theatre, Bath, are now available to buy HERE. Brother Bernard (comedian and Blackadder chronicler Jem Roberts) and Sister Sal (actor Kate Harbour…

    14th September 2017 THE WILD HUNT for backers

    Happy Folklore Thursday, dear pledgers.

    As you can see from the video above (with the whole manuscript formatted into an impossible font, after we realised we could give away most of the book doing this!), we've reached a crucial stage for TALES OF BRITAIN – all 77 stories are now complete, sequenced into order in a single manuscript, and practically ready for the clever folk at Unbound to start…

    12th September 2017 BBC Bristol Interview

    It's a little early for Folklore Thursday, but here's an interim update, with edited highlights of author Jem Roberts' folktale chat with BBC Bristol's Doctor of the Airwaves, Dr Phil Hammond, back in July.

    It was huge fun to chat with Phil all about this, though it's worth adding – a few folk have become exercised about the assertion that 'there is no British story collection', and it's true…

    7th September 2017 Knucker Pie: TALES LIVE IN OCTOBER!


    FIRST THINGS FIRST: We're sadly still not up to the 1/3 funded point a week on, so if any of our backers knows any way we can spread the word further, perhaps with coverage on radio, like the BBC Bristol tales we recorded, or in print, online, or via any means, it will require us all to pull together and do anything we can to interest our fellow…

    31st August 2017 FREE TALE: Robin's Arrow

    Happy Folklore Thursday, merrie backers – we are now 200 strong, and more! Can we get over 30% today, what can we all do to help us get there, to get a few individuals to pledge? Because we will need a lot more to see that green light shine, so whatever you do, please keep spreading the word about our campaign for 21st Century British Folklore!

    And as a special treat for everyone who has joined…

    24th August 2017 An Artist's Eye...

    A glorious Folklore Thursday to all our lovely backers!

    Would you like to help us illustrate and find a fresh visual dimension to Tales of Britain? Do you know any keen artists who would simply love to get involved, and create the look of 21st century British lore? Well, do read on...

    This here is the Eye of Lewis – the very hole through which the last remaining giant of Albion threaded…

    17th August 2017 Rhiannon: Wouldn't You Love To Love Her?

    A very warm Folklore Thursday greeting to all pledgers!

    Our campaign continues to grow, and we now have some wonderful heroes joining our ranks, including legendary musicians Cerys Matthews and Neil Innes, historians Greg Jenner, Justin Pollard and Francis Pryor, actors David Lloyd and Hugh Fraser, the great director Dirk Maggs, and some of the UK's best cartoonists, including Davey Jones, David…

    10th August 2017 Long Meg Lives!

    Happy Folklore Thursday, blessed 150! 20% funded in a month, we just need to do all that five more times...! We'd like to take this opportunity to share a bit more about the genesis of Tales of Britain, what drives it, and to celebrate the name of one of Cumbria's greatest mythical women – LONG MEG! 

    Last weekend we gave a special talk on Tales of Britain at Bristol's Sunday Assembly, including…

    3rd August 2017 Glastonbury Tales

    Happy Folklore Thursday, brave story-adventurers!

    If you click on the mp3 link just above, you'll hear the 5th of 5 very short tales recorded for BBC Bristol – AVALON! The tale of Arthur's final stand, and legendary final journey to the Isle of Apples...

    We'll be sharing the remaining two recordings when we can, but we've 'skipped to the end' to highlight one of the cornerstones of this…

    27th July 2017 Molly Whuppie! Shout her name!

    Happy Folklore Thursday!

    This week we need to talk about perhaps the most inspiring figure in the Tales of Britain collection: MOLLY WHUPPIE. 

    ©Errol le Cain

    I for one had never heard of this crafty hero from the western isles of Scotland until I embarked on this journey 13 years ago, and the injustice of her obscurity is one of the things which has driven the whole project – and that…

    20th July 2017 Bristol Cream

    Happy Folklore Thursday, lovers of British lore!

    It may have escaped your notice that Tales of Britain has been featured every day this week on BBC Radio Bristol, in Laura Rawlings' afternoon show at about 4.25pm. Brother Bernard has performed specially truncated versions of 5 tales – 3 from the Somerset area, plus 1 each for Wales and Scotland – in the hope that Brizzle's loyal listeners will…

    13th July 2017 OGGY OGGY MABINOGION! OI OI OI!

    Brother Bernard, Sister Sal, Jem, Kate, Kwaku, John and everyone battling to launch the 21st century British story treasury thank you all from the bottoms of our hearts and the hearts of our bottoms! All 35 of you who have stepped up to pledge so far, that is. 5% in one week still only leaves us in the foothills of the mountain we have to climb, but though this campaign may still take several months…

    6th July 2017 Help Us Revive Britain's Story Treasury TODAY!

    Happy Folklore Thursday, and welcome to the TALES OF BRITAIN campaign!

    PLEASE join with us in creating and promoting this exciting new treasury of ancient tales from Scotland, Wales, England and the Isles.

    Whether you love stories, or Britain, or both, or know anyone who would delight in a fresh anthology of British folklore, we see this as a movement to culturally re-unite the UK, from…

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  • Daniel Jackson
    Daniel Jackson asked:

    Hi Jem, Could you give a little more detail on the Live Show, please? Is it suitable for children, and can I bring mine with me if I pledge at this level? Best wishes, Daniel

    Jem Roberts
    Jem Roberts replied:

    As for details of box office front of house come the show, it's hard to say, but I'd imagine a family coming on one pledge will be reasonable enough, depending on the show's popularity! We can dialogue when the book is funded, and the show is being arranged. :)

    Daniel Jackson
    Daniel Jackson asked:

    Content removed by Moderator.

    Jem Roberts
    Jem Roberts replied:

    Hi Daniel! It is entirely crafted around being suitable for absolutely everyone of all ages, as is every element of Tales of Britain! Some of the book's stories get scary/bawdy etc., but the live shows in particular are intended for families. Hope to see you there! BBx

    Nik Horne
    Nik Horne asked:

    Just wondering if the "name in the book" only appears in the edition you back? E.g. I've backed the digital level but will probably buy the physical book when it's out (sorry if that sounds like I'm being cheap bit skint at the mo, sorry!) especially if I can get my (impending) daughter's name in print.

    Unbound replied:

    Hi Nik, Thanks for getting in touch! The supporters list is featured in both digital and physical editions of the book, so if you put your daughter's name inside it will be printed in the books too. And if you decide to opt for the hardback at any point you can always upgrade your pledge. Just see here for more info on upgrades: http://help.unbound.com/unbound-for-readers/managing-your-subscriptions/how-do-i-upgrade-my-level-of-support. Best wishes, Unbound Support

    Jo Cosgriff
    Jo Cosgriff asked:

    Hi, Just wondering when the ebook version will be released. Being on the other side of the world makes postage prohibitive for hard copies! Thanks.

    Unbound replied:

    Hi Jo, You should receive an email letting you know how to download the ebook. Sorry for the delay! Unbound Support