Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy announced as runner-up for Katharine Briggs Folklore Award

Last Wednesday I traveled to London for the Katharine Briggs Lecture 2017, and the announcement of the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award. My new monograph, Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy, had been shortlisted for this prestigious international award, previously won by such giants in the field as Marina Warner, Jack Zipes, and Hilda Ellis Davidson.

The lecture, titled “Hallowe’en and Valentine: The Culture of Saints’ Days in the English-Speaking World”, was given by the brilliant Professor Nick Groom (University of Exeter). Professor Groom argued for the influence of printed literature on the shaping (or reshaping) of folklore (from Shakespeare to the 18th century) and a lively discussion followed.

When the awards were announced after the lecture, I was absolutely delighted to find out that my book was the runner-up for the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award! The worthy winner was Christopher Josiffe, for his Gef! The Strange Tale of an Extra-Special Talking Mongoose (Strange Attractor Press, 2017). Given that there were nine shortlisted books, some of them by scholars I have been admiring and following for years, I was really proud that my book was the runner-up! And it was so nice to see so many colleagues and friends at the lecture and the reception that followed!

Many thanks to the judges and the Folklore Society!

Here is the shortlist in full:

  • Bronner, Simon. Folklore: The Basics (Routledge, 2017)
  • Constantine, Mary-Ann, and Éva Guillorel. Miracles & Murders: An Introductory Anthology of Breton Ballads (Oxford University Press, 2017)
  • Davies, Owen, ed. The Oxford Illustrated History of Witchcraft & Magic (Oxford University Press, 2017)
  • Dillion, Jacqueline. Thomas Hardy: Folklore and Resistance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)
  • Fimi, Dimitra. Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy: Idealization, Identity, Ideology (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)
  • Hannant, Sara, and Simon Costin. Of Shadows: One Hundred Objects from the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (Strange Attractor Press, 2016)
  • Heaney, Michael, ed. Percy Manning: The Man Who Collected Oxfordshire (Archaeopress Publishing, 2017)
  • Josiffe, Christopher. Gef! The Strange Tale of an Extra-Special Talking Mongoose (Strange Attractor Press, 2017)
  • Williams, Kelsey Jackson. The Antiquary: John Aubrey’s Historical Scholarship (Oxford University Press, 2016)

And here is a news story my university (Cardiff Metropolitan University) shared when my book was shortlisted: Literary nods for Cardiff Met fantasy and folklore academic

Philip Pullman in Cardiff: La Belle Sauvage, Lyra’s world, and the writer’s craft

This afternoon I was fortunate to attend a brilliant event organised by Waterstones and Literature Wales. Following the publication of La Belle Sauvage on Thursday, Philip Pullman visited Cardiff to talk about the new book and his creative process more generally. The event was held at the BBC Hoddinott Hall, Wales Millennium Centre, and the room was full to capacity.

During the first part Pullman answered questions posed by Horatio Clare, and also read to us two extracts from La Belle Sauvage. Then the audience has a chance to ask further questions.

Pullman talked about the characters of La Belle Sauvage, the world of Lyra, children’s literature, folklore, and the craft of writing more generally. Here is my Twitter thread with quotations and comments from Pullman during the Q&A:


Many congratulations to Waterstones and Literature Wales for a wonderful event!



CFP: The Celtic Obsession in Modern Fantasy

CFP: The Celtic Obsession in Modern Fantasy


You are invited to submit a paper for an edited volume tentatively titled The Celtic Obsession in Modern Fantasy Literature to be submitted to Palgrave Macmillan.

Scholarship on Celtic-inspired fantasy literature has mostly focused on source-studies of pre-1980s texts (e.g. Sullivan, 1989; White, 1998). Dimitra Fimi’s recent Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy: Idealization, Identity, Ideology (2017), has widened the discussion by engaging with the Celticism vs. Celtoscepticism debate, focusing on constructions of “Celtic” identities in children’s and young adult fantasies from the 1960s to the 2010s.

This edited collection will take the debate further by focusing on post-1980s Celtic-inspired fantasy for adults. The “Celticity” of each fantasy text can be interpreted broadly to include:

  • Creatively re-using heroes and mythological motifs from medieval Celtic texts, such as the Welsh Mabinogion, the Irish Táin Bó Cúailnge, etc.
  • Engaging with perceptions of the “Celts” in classical sources such as Strabo, Herodotus, and Polybius, Tacitus and Caesar.
  • Imaginatively utilizing insights from Iron Age archaeology, often dubbed “Celtic”
  • Adapting folklore traditions from Celtic-speaking countries
  • Evoking a looser notion of “Celtic”-like society, religion, folklore, etc., including in para-textual or marketing material

We acknowledge that the dividing line between children and adult fiction is not always clear. Papers can focus on the work of fantasists such as:

  • Kate Forsyth
  • David Gemmell
  • John Gwynne
  • Katharine Kerr
  • Stephen R. Lawhead
  • Ilka Tampke
  • Tad Willaims

(This is not an exhaustive list)

Although heroic or epic fantasy may seem to fit better the scope of this collection, we are open to considering proposals on other sub-genres of fantasy literature, such as urban, magical realism and SF/fantasy crossovers.

Please submit a title and abstract to the editors by:
15th December 2017
Essay due: 1st June 2018


Dr. Dimitra Fimi, Cardiff Metropolitan University (dfimi@cardiffmet.ac.uk)
Dr. Alistair J.P. Sims (booksonthehill@gmail.com)


Fimi, Dimitra. Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy: Idealization, Identity, Ideology. London: Palgrace Macmillan, 2017.
Sullivan III, C.W. Welsh Celtic Myth in Modern Fantasy. Westport, CT; London: Greenwood Press, 1989.
White, Donna R. A Century of Welsh Myth in Children’s Literature. Westport, CT; London: Greenwood Press, 1998.