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.

Friday, 8 December 2017



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 an urban myth as a joke that got way out of hand. And yet, there is a pleasing element to the fact that it was only just as funding for Tales of Britain was nearing that most meaningful of meaningless numbers, 42%, that word came through, that...


... That is, if those of our 280-odd backers who have pre-ordered a hardback copy are happy to get hold of these 77 stories in paperback instead – with full credit for the extra money pledged. If not, you are entitled to contact Unbound and ask for a refund... 

But we do hope, as this is above all a campaign to popularise our national lore for a whole new generation, with fresh retellings for everyone, of all ages and any nationality or philosophy, doing our bit to bring together England, Scotland, Wales and the Isles in this time of Brexit madness... that you feel, as we all do, that just getting this already completed book out to people all over the world is what really matters right now.

If everyone's happy with the new deal, TALES OF BRITAIN IS GO! The interstellar jump from 42% may need some further explanation, and all pledgers will be contacted by Unbound directly if they haven't yet, but what it comes down to is, the goalposts were wisely moved. There's no denying that the last few months, of getting funding to this stage, has been one of the very hardest challenges imaginable, particularly given how crucial and undervalued our national treasury of tales is, while other titles with fewer pledgers were sailing off to the bookshops, our progress was incredibly arduous – because our proposed budget/target was so much higher.

So essentially, we've made two big concessions to get the book out to everyone – first, we've removed the Penguin/Random House distribution, which does mean that you won't automatically find Tales of Britain in the big stores, Waterstones, WH Smith etc. – but you CAN always ask for them there, and as there are no other British folklore books, or anything like this, that may inspire individual shops to order copies in. Certainly their bookshelves will be poorer for having no such British story treasury on them. If you wish to support our folklore, and share these tales as wide as posssible, visiting your nearest Waterstones and requesting copies could be a great move.

The other concession is launching in paperback, which was always our ideal in the first place! Tales of Britain is a road atlas of stories with tourist guides, designed for action, to be rolled up and put in backpacks while exploring the country, thrown in the car's back window for Sunday jaunts to mystical corners of the UK, and generally manhandled, pored over and LOVED. If it looks disshevelled in a year or two, that just means it's been enjoyed to the full. This book is certainly not designed to sit on a shelf looking nice, gold-leaf-covered and never being read, as a big unwieldy hardback. And these retellings are to be SHARED ALOUD, too, so who cares what paper it's printed on?

We send sincere apologies to anyone who particularly wanted a hardback copy, and the main thing is, this is a ball which is going to keep on rolling, we hope this first edition of TALES OF BRITAIN will be successful enough that eventually there will be special editions, further volumes (more and more tales keep mounting up, and we want regional folk-lovers to keep sending ones we're unacquainted with), Tales of Ireland, Tales of Europe, Tales of Azerbaijan, collector hardbacks, spin-offs, adaptations, pencil cases and who knows what else.

And of course, Unbound will be giving all hardback pledgers credit for other books – why not enjoy works by Julie Warren, or Mark Bowsher? Or perhaps even, ahem... a bit of Fry & Laurie?

So there you have it – or soon will, if that's okay with everyone. With those changes made, 'the maths' adds up to a 2018 release for our road atlas of ancient stories, at last, with a few months ahead to agree on the design, potential illustrations, and so on. The relief is beyond words, even for a storyteller.

If we now make this magical switch, then it's all thanks to each and every one of you who has pledged, and our kind supporters including everyone at Godchecker, Neil Gaiman, Sir Tony Robinson, Cerys Matthews, Shappi Khorsandi, Francis Pryor, Greg Jenner, Neil Innes, Dirk Maggs, Hugh Fraser, Brian Blessed... well, just look at them all! And we hope with the book a reality, more lovely folk may join their ranks.

2018 will be the year of TALES OF BRITAIN, with the book out soon, and as many events and live shows as we can fit into the twelvemonth – if you can think of any feasible booking for our live storytelling show, either with Brother Bernard and Sister Sal or one of them solo, we'll move mountains to be there! Our next show is YULE TALES OF BRITAIN at The Bell Inn, Bath on Saturday 16th December if you'd like a special festive flavour of our yarn-spinning...

And of course, the blogs will keep coming, up to the book's release and beyond – plus a further bonus Yule story is headed your way as an early present!

Thank you once again to everyone who has backed our campaign so far, and to all hardback pledgers for understanding the change; the support of every last one of you means the universe to all of us. That's a lot of universes.

Oh, and if you haven't yet pre-ordered a copy, now you know it won't be an empty gesture, but there's a real big beautiful book headed your way as soon in 2018 as possible! Pre-order away!


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Dee Dee Chainey
 Dee Dee Chainey says:

Brilliant news — and a great idea! Don't think people will mind at all!

posted 8th December 2017

Tanya Hinton
 Tanya Hinton says:

Sounds good to me! Can't wait to see it in print. What time in the bell Bath on 16th? XxX

posted 8th December 2017

Tom Boon
 Tom Boon says:

Paperback sounds like a good idea. Not sure we'll be getting credit off other Unbound books though. The Unbound e-mail says:

"if you’re happy to still be a patron of the book and for your money to go towards publishing it, then please accept our grateful thanks.

You'll automatically be upgraded so your name appears as a Special Patron in the front of the book. It's our way of saying thank you."

posted 19th December 2017

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