Theo Brown


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A good recent example of the regional folklorist concentrating on a single area—in her case, Devon and adjacent parts of the West Country. She specialized in first-hand recording of local traditions, folk narratives, and otherworld beliefs; her attitude was that of a serious academic, citing source materials with care. For deeper interpretation she drew on Jungian symbolism, but never let theory obscure or distort the primary material. Her most important book, The Fate of the Dead (1979), examines legends about laying troublesome ghosts in relation to the impact of the Reformation on popular religious beliefs. She had planned a full study of the black dog, but the mass of material she gathered proved unmanageable; a preliminary report appeared in Folklore 69 (1958), 175–92.

Much of her work consisted of articles and reviews in Folklore and the Transactions of the Devonshire Association, pamphlets, and contributions to symposia. She became an Honorary Research Fellow at Exeter University; her lectures there, and to local organizations, encouraged many others to collect folklore.

See Davidson and Blacker, 2001: 247–55.

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