Fable Fridays: Joseph Jacobs
Did you know the foremost expert on English fables and folklore ... was an Australian? Joseph Jacobs was born in Sydney in 1854 and went on to publish and popularise English fairytales like Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldilocks and the Three Tears, The Three Little Pigs, Jack the Giant Killer and Tom Thumb. Apart from English tales, he collected tales from continental Europe, Jewish, Celtic and Indian sources. At the time, fairytales were predominantly French or German and Jacobs wanted children to have access to English tales.
There are some unusual tales he's collected like 'Binnorie' (or The Two Sisters) which is a murder ballad thought to originate in England or Scotland - the song recounts the tale of a girl drowned by her jealous sister!
He was educated at Sydney Grammar School and at the University of Sydney, completing his studies at St John's College in Cambridge, England. Later in life he was involved with Jewish history, travelling to the US to give lectures and joining the American Jewish Historical Society. He would go on to become the editor of the Jewish Encyclopedia based in New York. He died in 1916 in Yonkers, New York, aged 62.
Artwork by John D. Batten (a frequent collaborator as an illustrator)