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‘Like a child after the Pied Piper I pursued Jubber into a world both human and full of magic. A carnival of a book, rigorously researched and jostling with life’ Amy Jeffs, author of Storyland: A New Mythology of Britain

Magical tales about magical tales and tellers. Jubber, congenially and fascinatingly, explores the land from which the great fairy stories seeped, making the stories more resonant, powerful and important than ever’ Charles Foster, author of Being a Human and Being a Beast

Fairy-Tales are not just fairy-tales: they are records of historical phenomena, telling us something about how Western civilisation was formed. In The Fairy Tellers, award-winning travel-writer Nick Jubber explores the secret history of fairy-tales: the people who told them, the landscapes that forged them, and the cultures that formed them.

While there are certain names inextricably entwined with the concept of a fairy-tale, such as the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, the most significant tellers are long buried under the more celebrated figures who have taken the credit for their stories – people like the Syrian storyteller Youhenna Diab and the Wild Sisters of Cassel. Without them we would never have heard of Aladdin, his Magic Lamp or the adventures of Hansel and Gretel.

Tracking these stories to their sources carries us through the steaming cities of Southern Italy and across the Mediterranean to the dust-clogged alleys of the Maghreb, under the fretting leaves of the Black Forest, deep into the tundra of Siberia and across the snowy hills of Lapland.

From North Africa and Siberia, this book illuminates the complicated relationship between Western civilisation and the ‘Eastern’ cultures it borrowed from, and the strange lives of our long lost fairy-tellers.

Reviews

I love this book - a whole new way into these classic tales. The Fairy Tellers is full of fascinating detail, a must for those intrigued by the traditional tale. Author Nick Jubber is the real thing, a scholar gypsy of courage and skill
Robert Twigger, award-winning author of Red Nile
Jubber's style is so pervaded with intrigue and adventure that it is impossible not to be swept up by these seven fascinating tales of the neglected tellers of our most treasured stories. The Fairy Tellers brilliantly reveals all the serendipity at the heart of what we think of as eternal, the specific circumstances and individual creativity behind the great archetypes that inform our understanding of our world in childhood and beyond. Enchanting, illuminating, and delightful
Jennifer Croft, author of Homesick and co-winner of the Man Booker International Prize for Flights
A dazzling treasury of observation, erudition, and folklore - recounted with spellbinding sensitivity and grace
Tahir Shah, author of In Arabian Nights
Jubber astutely delves into the origins and deeper meanings of fairy tales and their cultural history - the cooking pot of languages and stories which have continually fed our imagination down the centuries. A fine achievement
James Crowden
Wondrous. Jubber evokes hidden moments and atmospheres across the world, from smoke-filled dens to exquisite palaces, so beautifully that they will linger long in my memory. A treasure trove of a book
Zoe Gilbert, author of Folk
A fabulous book . . . My favourite kind of nonfiction - skilled writing that takes imaginary worlds and renders them almost tangible
Edward Brooke-Hitching, author of The Phantom Atlas
Magical tales about magical tales and tellers. Jubber, congenially and fascinatingly, explores the land from which the great fairy stories seeped, making the stories more resonant, powerful and important than ever
Charles Foster, author of Being a Human and Being a Beast
In this rich and sparkling journey, Jubber follows the ink trails of the great storytellers of the past, weaving a tale of his own by turns witty, bawdy, poignant, always eye-opening
Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough, author of Beyond the Northlands
Fantastic, moreish and utterly original, with The Fairy-Tellers Jubber not only takes us through some wildly eclectic histories and landscapes, he also reminds us of what heights travel writing is capable of
Caroline Eden, author of Black Sea
Like a child after the Pied Piper I pursued Jubber into a world both human and full of magic. A carnival of a book, rigorously researched and jostling with life
Amy Jeffs, author of Storyland