Birthday: Nov 8, 1898Website:
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Katharine Mary Briggs (8 November 1898 to 15 October 1980) was an English writer, who wrote The Anatomy of Puck, the four-volume Dictionary of British Folk-Tales, and various other books on fairies and folklore.
She was born in Hampstead, London, the eldest of three surviving daughters of Ernest Edward Briggs, who came from Yorkshire (his family had had great success in coal mining in Halifax and Wakefield), and Mary Cooper. The other two sisters were named Winifred and Elspeth. Ernest was a watercolour artist with a specific interest in Scottish scenery who often told his children stories, possibly sparking Katharine's lifelong interest in them. The family moved to Perthshire in 1911, where Ernest built a house, Dalbeathie House. Ernest died there two years later in 1913. Katharine began attending Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford in 1918, obtained a BA in 1922, and took her MA in 1926.
Returning home (because of the family coal legacy, and a colliery in Normantown, she did not need to seek work), she began writing and running plays – the entire family enjoyed theatrical productions, and it was a lifelong interest of Katharine's – while she studied folklore and 17th-century English history. She gained her PhD with a thesis on Folklore in seventeenth-century literature (Folklore in Jacobean Literature) after the Second World War; during the war, she had been busy teaching in a Polish refuge school and working for the medical branch of the WAAF. After her first book on British fairies, The Personnel of Fairyland, Briggs went on to write many other books on folklore, including the four-volume A Dictionary of British Folktales in the English Language (published in 1971), The Anatomy of Puck and its sequel, Pale Hecate's Team (1962), An Encyclopedia of Fairies (1976), and various other books on fairies and folklore; a number were children's books like The Legend of Maiden-Hair (her first published book) or Hobberdy Dick, and Kate Crackernuts.
She was awarded the Doctorate in Literature in 1969. She lived the latter part of her life at Barn House in Burford, along with her sisters and her many cats, while working for the Folklore Society, which named an award in her honour. Briggs died aged 82 on 15 October 1980.
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