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Arthur Robinson Wright

(1862—1932)


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(1862–1932).

His working life was spent as a civil servant in the Patent Office. He was an active member of the Folklore Society, serving for many years as Editor of the journal Folk-Lore (1909–31) and as President (1927–8). Wright was a great gatherer of information. His personal library (donated to the Folklore Society on his death) numbered some 5,000 folklore volumes, and he was an inveterate cutter of items from newspapers. He was unusual in the inter-war generation for being equally interested in the ‘modern’ as in the ancient, and in numerous letters to Folk-Lore he commented on topics such as vehicle mascots (in 1913), confetti, the three lights superstition, the number thirteen, and the burial of amputated limbs, and his small book English Folklore (1928) is packed with material on a wide variety of topics and can still be useful as an introduction to folklore. In his second Presidential Address, entitled ‘The Unfinished Tasks of the Folk-Lore Society’ (Folk-Lore 39 (1928), 15–38), he commented:folklore is very much a thing of life and growth today, and not a mere ‘survival’ from the smelly and fear-haunted days of ‘primitive’ man, no more capable of development or growth than a fossil bone or stone axe.

folklore is very much a thing of life and growth today, and not a mere ‘survival’ from the smelly and fear-haunted days of ‘primitive’ man, no more capable of development or growth than a fossil bone or stone axe.

Wright's other lifelong folklore interest was in calendar customs, and he laboured long to gather material for what he saw as a new version of Brand's Popular Antiquities. He died before it was completed, but his material was edited into shape by T. E. Lones, and published by the Folklore Society under their joint names as British Calendar Customs: England (3 vols., 1936–40), which still serves as a standard work on the subject.

Obituary by M. Gaster and A. A. Gomme: Folk-Lore 44 (1933), 116–20; Who Was Who.


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