Pantheon Fairy Tale & Folklore Library
The Pantheon fairy tale and folklore collection is well known as an authoritative collection of world folk and fairy tale compilations by world-class scholars and anthropologists. The books in the series all contain many stories from a particular culture, region or genre, but the styles of the stories in each collection does vary wildly. Most of the books include black & white illustrations throughout the text.
How many books are there in the series?
There are 27 books in the full Pantheon Fairy Tales and Folklore series. Of these, 17 titles are currently in print (contemporary paperback design).
Are all these titles unique to the Pantheon series?
No. Many of the titles in the Pantheon Fairy Tales and Folklore series are also printed by other publishers, particularly because most of them are older titles that are out of copyright (and in fact, there’s a bit of an overlap with other folklore series, such as several of the same titles featuring in the Penguin Folklore Library as well). There are thousands of collections of Grimm’s and Andersen’s fairy tales, for example, and some of the titles also exist in nice editions by other publishers. I have added below notable editions of several titles by other publishers such as the Folio Society or Barnes & Noble where I think it would be helpful for collectors. My own library has the titles in this series by a mix of publishers – I simply choose the edition I like the most (or was most affordable). If you’d like to recommend another nice edition of any of these titles, please do add it into the comments!
Which is the best book in the series?
If you only want to get one book in the series (or are wondering where to start), I recommend Jane Yolen’s Favorite Folktales from Around the World. The stories in this collection are grouped by theme (‘love’, ‘death’, ‘tricksters’, ‘wisdom’, etc), they are written very accessibly, and they represent storytelling traditions from all over the world.
Why are there so many different covers for the same book?
Pantheon publishing has actually been bringing the folkloric traditions of cultures around the world to life since since the 1940s, and the titles in this series have been printed and resigned in many different formats. This guide is to help you track down whichever series you are interested in collecting. The most recent collection of contemporary paperbacks that is currently in print forms a “matched” set of cover art, if that’s what you would like. However, if you are looking for older copies, frustratingly ISBNs have been reused for the new contemporary designs of the paperback editions as well as the older cover art – at present if you order a copy new online you will probably get the new contemporary design, while if you are buying second-hand, you should ask for a picture of the book before purchasing to be sure you get the one you want.
Which books are worth the most?
Some of the out of print hardback titles are very sought after and consequently quite expensive. The most popular out of print title (which is also usually the most expensive) is the Encyclopedia of Fairies by Katherine Briggs.
'Shelf Appeal', or how the collections might look on your bookshelf
Complete List of Titles (A-Z)
Jump to tales from region or culture: African American | African | American Indian | America | American West | Arabian | British | British Isles | Chinese | France | Greece | Ireland | India | Italy | Japan | Latin America | Norse Myths | Norway | Russia | Swedish | Yiddish
Jump to world folklore or author collections: Encyclopedia of Fairies | Grimm’s Fairy Tales | Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales | Old Wives’ Tales | Victorian England | World Folklore
“Full of life, wisdom, and humor, these tales range from the earthy comedy of tricksters, to accounts of how the world was created and got to be the way it is, to moral fables that tell of encounters between masters and slaves. They include stories set down in nineteenth-century travelers’ reports and plantation journals, tales gathered by collectors such as Joel Chandler Harris and Zora Neale Hurston, and narratives tape-recorded by Roger Abrahams himself during extensive expeditions throughout the American South and the Caribbean.”
“The deep forest and broad savannah, the campsites, kraals, and villages—from this immense area south of the Sahara Desert the distinguished American folklorist Roger D. Abrahams has selected ninety-five tales that suggest both the diversity and the interconnectedness of the people who live there. The storytellers weave imaginative myths of creation and tales of epic deeds, chilling ghost stories, and ribald tales of mischief and magic in the animal and human realms. Abrahams renders these stories in a narrative voice that reverberates with the rhythms of tribal song and dance and the emotional language of universal concerns.”
African Folktales by Roger D. Abrahams
The Folio Society released an edition of this Pantheon title in 2016.
The book is bound in red illustrated cloth, and presented in a slipcase. It includes a new preface by Wole Soyinka, along with 8 colour illustrations by Keith Hau.
“More than 160 tales from eighty tribal groups present a rich and lively panorama of the Native American mythic heritage. From across the continent comes tales of creation and love; heroes and war; animals, tricksters, and the end of the world.”
America In Legend
*OOP. Two centuries of American folklore from the Colonial Period to the present collected by Richard Dawson.
“A look at the nation’s past and development through tales, humor and contemporary hero tales.“
By Inea Bushnaq
Translated and edited by Inea Bushnaq.
“Out of alleys of Cairo and Bedouin tents, from the Moroccan laborers and Syrian peasants, the approximately 130 tales vary considerably in length and portray heroes and villains, corruption and nobility equally. The tales were selected from a broad array of previously published sources and transcripts of the editor’s field work. It is divided into six sections in categories such as animal tales or adventure tales. Sectional introductions provide the cultural background useful for interpreting the tales.”
With black and white illustrations throughout. Selected from the author’s original 4-volume Dictionary of British Folk-tales.
“Nearly two hundred tales, representing British folk beliefs and legends from medieval to modern times, present an archetypal world of devils, dragons, black dogs, bogies, witches, saints, giants, ghosts, phantom huntsmen, and other mythic figures.”
Chinese Fairy Tales and Fantasies
By Moss Roberts
“This collection of tales opens up a magical world far from our customary haunts. Ghost stories, romances, fables, and heroic sagas: the forms are familiar, but the characters we meet surprise us at every turn. For those who know and love the tales of the Grimms and Andersen, the universal themes of fairy tale literature emerge in these classic stories, but with a sophistication that is uniquely Chinese and altogether entrancing.”
The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales
By the Brothers Grimm
Illustrated in b&w by Josef Scharl, with commentary by Joseph Campbell.
“The stories of magic and myth gathered by the Brothers Grimm have become part of the way children—and adults—learn about the vagaries of the real world. Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow-White, Hänsel and Gretel, Little Red-Cap (Little Red Riding Hood), and Briar-Rose (Sleeping Beauty) are only a few of the more than two hundred enchanting characters included in this volume. The tales are presented just as Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm originally set them down: bold, primal, just frightening enough, and endlessly engaging.”
Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales
Barnes & Noble have released several leatherbound editions of this title as part of their collectible classics series. The current edition – illustrated by Arthur Rackham – was released in 2015.
Currently in print.
An Encyclopedia of Fairies
A collection of “Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies and other Supernature Creatures”. Illustrated by Yvonne Gilbert.
“A complete guide to fairy lore from the Middle Ages to the present. Both an anthology of fairy tales and a reference work with essays about the fairy economy, food, sports, powers and more.”
Favourite Folktales from Around the World
By Jane Yolen
“From Africa, Burma, and Czechoslovakia to Turkey, Vietnam, and Wales here are more than 150 of the world’s best-loved folktales from more than forty countries and cultures. These tales of wonder and transformation, of heroes and heroines, of love lost and won, of ogres and trolls, stories both jocular and cautionary and legends of pure enchantment will delight readers and storytellers of all ages.”
Folktales from India
“An enchanting collection of 110 tales, translated from twenty-two different languages, that are by turns harrowing and comic, sardonic and allegorical, mysterious and romantic. Gods disguised as beggars and beasts, animals enacting Machiavellian intrigues, sagacious jesters and magical storytellers, wise counselors and foolish kings—all inhabit a fabular world, yet one that is also firmly grounded in everyday life. Here is an indispensable guide to India’s ageless folklore tradition.”
Folktales of the British Isles
“Tales and legends collected from the British Isles, representing Celtic, English, and Norse traditions, are organized thematically in a volume that traces each tale back through history to place it in its original context.”
The Folio Society released an edition of this Pantheon title in 1985, and again in 2008.
The 1985 and 1995 reprint Folio editions are quarter bound in black cloth, with pale green patterned paper boards, and illustrated with 58 wood engravings by Hannah Firmin. The 2008 edition is bound in illustrated blue cloth, and also has the engravings by Hannah Firmin.
Selected by C. G. Bjurstom. Translated and introduced by Royall Taylor.
“Selected from Henri Pourrat’s classic Le tresor des contes, one of the finest folktale collections in the world, these one-hundred-odd legends, fairy tales, devotional pieces, jokes, and animal stories from the rural provinces of France comprise a magical volume. Fairies, changelings, giants, demons, bumpkins, knaves, bewitched and bewitching princesses, bandits, and others enact stories of perilous tests of love, contests with the devil, the beneficence of saints, and more.”
Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece
MYTHS AND EPICS OF ANCIENT GREECE
By Gustav Schwab
Edited by Gustav Schwab with an introduction by Werner Jaeger, and black-and-white illustrations throughout.
“From fire-stealing Prometheus to scene-stealing Helen of Troy, from Jason and his golden fleece to Oedipus and his mother, this collection of classic tales from Greek mythology demonstrates the inexhaustible vitality of a timeless cultural legacy. These stories of heroes and powerful gods and goddesses are set forth simply and movingly, in language that retains the power and drama of the original works by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Homer.”
Hans Christian Andersen: Eighty Fairy Tales
Introduced by Elias Bredsdorff.
“New translations of eighty Andersen classics preserve the power, poetry, humor, and poignance of the original versions of well-known, satirical tales, and tales of mysticism.”
Hans Christian Andersen Classic Fairy Tales
Barnes & Noble have released several leatherbound collections of Hans Christian Andersen tales as part of their collectible classics series. The latest edition – illustrated by Dugald Stewart Walker and Hans Tegner – was released in 2015.
Edited by Henry Glassie, with black-and-white illustrations throughout.
“Here are 125 magnificent folktales collected from anthologies and journals published from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. Beginning with tales of the ancient times and continuing through the arrival of the saints in Ireland in the fifth century, the periods of war and family, the Literary Revival championed by William Butler Yeats, and the contemporary era, these robust and funny, sorrowful and heroic stories of kings, ghosts, fairies, treasures, enchanted nature, and witchcraft are set in cities, villages, fields, and forests from the wild western coast to the modern streets of Dublin and Belfast.”
By Italo Calvino
Translated by George Martin.
“Chosen as one of the New York Times’s ten best books in the year of its original publication, this collection immediately won a cherished place among lovers of the tale and vaulted Calvino into the ranks of the great folklorists.”
Folio Society released a beautiful and comprehensive two-volume edition of Calvino’s Italian Folktales in 2019, translated by George Martin and illustrated by Gérard DuBois
Currently in print.
► Buy from Folio Society
By Royall Tyler
Edited and translated by Royall Tyler, with black-and-white illustrations throughout.
“Two hundred and twenty tales from medieval Japan—tales that welcome us into a fabulous faraway world populated by saints, scoundrels, ghosts, magical healers, and a vast assortment of deities and demons. Stories of miracles, visions of hell, jokes, fables, and legends, these tales reflect the Japanese civilization. They ably balance the lyrical and the dramatic, the ribald and the profound, offering a window into a long-vanished culture.”
The Folio Society released a fine edition of this Pantheon title in 2018.
The Folio edition is bound in picture-blocked silky blue cloth and illustrated by Yuko Shimizu with 8 colour illustrations (including 4 double-page spreads), and 17 integrated black & white drawings. Also include printed endpapers, silver page edges and an image blocked and die-cut blue slipcase.
☞ If you’d like more details, I also reviewed this title in depth here.
Latin American Folktales
“The wisdom and artistry of storytellers from Hispanic and Indian traditions preserve one of the world’s richest folktale traditions—combining the lore of medieval Europe, the ancient Near East, and pre-Columbian America. Gathered from twenty countries, including the United States, the stories are brought together here in a core collection of one hundred tales arranged in the form of a velorio, or wake, the most frequent occasion for public storytelling. This is the first panoramic anthology of Hispano-American folk narratives in any language.”
Legends and Tales of the American West
Edited and illustrated (in black-and white) by Richard Erdoes.
“From Davy Crockett, Wild Bill Hickok, and Calamity Jane to Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, and Frank and Jesse James, here are more than 130 colorful stories of the pioneers, cowboys, outlaws, gamblers, prospectors, and lawmen who settled the wild west, creating a uniquely American hero and an enduringly fascinating folk mythology. In this wonderfully boisterous treasury of tall tales, everyone and everything is larger than life and bragging is elevated into an art form. Many of these stories are of real people and real events; more than a few, however, grew taller and funnier as they made their rounds from wagon train to campfire to rodeo to miners’ quarters. But even if it is far from established that Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett were able to kill three men with one bullet or subdue ferocious grizzly bears with their fists, they come vividly to life here as beloved characters who have become part of the fabric of the American imagination.”
The Norse Myths
Introduced and retold by Kevin Crossley-Holland, with black-and-white drawings throughout.
“Here are thirty-two classic myths that bring the pre-Christian Scandinavian world to life and bear witness to the courage, passion, and boundless spirit that were hallmarks of the Norse world. Gods, humans, and monstrous beasts engage in prodigious drinking bouts, contests of strength, greedy schemes for gold, and lusty encounters. Included are tales of Odin, the wisest and most fearsome of all the gods; Thor, the thundering powerhouse; and the exquisite mafic-wielding Freyja.”
By Howard Norman
*OOP. Stories from the native peoples of the Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions.
“By turns tragic and comic, a collection of more than one hundred tales displays the cultural richness and diversity among more than thirty tribes of the arctic and subarctic regions and explores the relation of human and nature in the far North.”
“These 35 folk tales have been gathered from Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe’s landmark nineteenth-century collections, acclaimed by Jacob Grimm for their freshness and a fullness that “surpass nearly all others.” In this sparkling translation by Pat Shaw and Carl Norman, accompanied by a selection of the magnificent original illustrations of Erik Werenskiold and Theodor Kittelsen, are captivating stories of witches, trolls, and ogres; sly foxes and mysterious bears; beautiful princesses and country lads-turned-heroes that brim with the matchless vitality and power of their original telling.”
Old Wives' Fairy Tale Book
By Angela Carter
*OOP. (Note: this is the same collection released under the title The Virago Book of Fairy Tales.)
“Funny, ribald, riduculous, and romantic illustrated wives’ tales from around the world feature female protagonists from the silly to the cruel.”
Russian Fairy Tales
Translated by Norbert Guterman, and illustrated (in black & white) by Alexander Alexeieff throughout.
“This comprehensive collection introduces readers to universal fairy-tale figures and to such uniquely Russian characters such as Koshchey the Deathless, Baba Yaga, the Swan Maiden, and the glorious Firebird. The more than 175 tales culled from a landmark multi-volume collection by the outstanding Russian ethnographer Aleksandr Afanas’ev reveal a rich, robust world of the imagination.”
Swedish Fairy Tales
By Lone Thygesen Blecher & George Blecher
“One hundred-and-fifty newly translated Swedish folktales feature stories ranging from the ribald to the magical, where sirens, trolls, princesses, dunces, and rakes all come to life.”
Victorian Fairy Tales
Edited and with an introduction by Michael Patrick Hearn, accompanied by b&w illustrations from the original editions of these works.
“From Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin and William Makepeace Thackeray’s The Rose and the Ring to Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon and J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, here are seventeen classic stories and poems from the golden age of the English fairy tale. Some of them amuse, some enchant, some satirize and criticize, but each one is an expression of the joy of living.”
Edited by Beatrice Sherman Weinreich, translated by Leonard Wolf, with black-and-white illustrations throughout.
“Filled with princesses and witches, dybbuks and wonder-working rebbes, the two hundred tales that make up this delightful compendium were gathered during the 1920s and 1930s by ethnographers in the small towns and villages of Eastern Europe. Collected from people of all walks of life, they include parables and allegories about life, luck, and wisdom; tales of magic and wonder; poignant encounters between rabbis and their disciples; and stories whose only purpose is to entertain. Long after the culture that produced them tragically disappeared, these enchanting Yiddish folktales continue to work their magic today.”
About the authors
ROGER D. ABRAHAMS (1933-2017) was the Hum Rosen Professor of Folklore and Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania, president of the American Folklore Society, and the author of many books, monographs, and articles on African American, Creole, Caribbean, and American culture, including African American Folktales and African Folktales.
ALEKSANDR AFANAS’EV (1826-1871) published his groundbreaking collection of Russian folktales and fairy tales in eight volumes, from 1855 to 1867. His success in polarizing Russian folklore and culture is reflected in the work of writers and composers from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov to Igor Stravinsky. He first published Russian Fairy Tales with Pantheon Books in 1945.
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (1805–75) was born in Odense, Denmark. The son of a poor shoemaker, who nonetheless was a great reader, his father died when he was 11, and it wasn’t until six years later that, with the help of a patron, he finally went to a state secondary school attended by much younger children. He published his first novel and his first fairy tales in 1835; thereafter he wrote over 150 more of these stories which have become classics in many languages. Although he originally addressed his fairy tales to children (and some would maintain he had a streak of childhood in his nature) he insisted they were “for all ages,” and the gentleness and humor that are their characteristics are recognized by everyone.
PETER CHRISTEN ASBJØRNSEN (1812-1885) and JØRGEN ENGEBRETSEN MOE (1813-1882) were collectors of Norwegian folklore who published Norske folkeeventyr (Norwegian Folktales), which is a landmark in Norwegian literature and influenced the Norwegian language.
JOHN BIERHORST is the author, editor, or translator of more than thirty books on Native American lore, including Latin American Folktales, The Mythology of South America, The Mythology of North America, and The Mythology of Mexico and Central America.
KATHARINE MARY BRIGGS (1898-1980) was a British folklorist and writer, who wrote a four-volume Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language, and various other books on fairies and folklore, including A Dictionary of Fairies and British Folklore. From 1969 to 1972, she was president of the Folklore Society, which established an award in her name to commemorate her life and work.
KEVIN CROSSLEY-HOLLAND fell in love with the Middle Ages and Anglo-Saxon poetry while he was an undergraduate at Oxford University. He wrote his first work for children, a retelling of a medieval romance, in a London park during lunch breaks from his job as a children’s book editor. In 1985, he received the Carnegie Medal for his novel Storm. A longtime resident of the United States, where he taught at the University of Minnesota, Kevin and his wife, Linda, now live on the coast of the North Sea in Norfolk, England. He is the author of Folk Tales of the British Isles and The Norse Myths.
RICHARD MERCER DORSON (1916–1981) was an American folklorist, professor, and director of the Folklore Institute at Indiana University. Dorson authored the Handbook of American Folklore and America in Legend, and has been called the “father of American folklore”.
HENRY GLASSIE is College Professor Emeritus of Folklore at Indiana University. WIth specializations in oral narrative, folk art, vernacular architecture, and material culture, he has written twenty books on the traditional arts of Ireland, Turkey, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Brazil, and the United States, including Irish Folktales. He is a former president of the American Folklore Society and received the Haskins prize of the American Council of Learned Societies for a distinguished career of humanistic scholarship.
JACOB GRIMM (1785–1863) and WILHELM GRIMM (1786–1859) were born in Hanau, Germany. They both studied at Marburg, and from 1808 to 1829 mainly worked in Kassel as state-appointed librarians. Between them, and often in collaboration, the Grimms were reponsible for pioneering work on medieval texts, the heroic epic, legends, and mythology; as well as for many other contributions to the study of ancient German culture. One of their most remarkable publications was the Kinder- und Hausmärchen (1812, with many subsequent editions), which remains to this day the most famous collection of folktales in the world.
A. K. RAMANUJAN (1929-1993) was William E. Colvin Professor of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and a member of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Folktales from India.
GUSTAV SCHWAB (1792–1850) was a German writer, educator, pastor, and publisher. Born in Stuttgart, he studied philology, philosophy, and theology at the University of Tübingen. Schwab’s collection of myths and legends of classical antiquity was published in 1838 and was widely used in German schools.
ROYALL TYLER has taught Japanese language and culture at many universities, including Harvard, the Australian National University, the University of Oslo, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He lives in Australia and is the author of Japanese Tales.
Editor BEATRICE SILVERMAN WEINREICH (1928-2008) was for many years a research associate at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York and coeditor of the journal Yiidisher Folklor. She authored Yiddish Folktales and published many articles in academic journals on Yiddish culture and folklore.
Born and raised in New York City, JANE YOLEN now lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. She attended Smith College and received her master’s degree in education from the University of Massachusetts. The distinguished author of more than 170 books, when she is not writing, Yolen composes songs, is a professional storyteller on the stage, and is the busy wife of a university professor, the mother of three grown children, and a grandmother. All of Yolen’s stories and poems are rooted in her sense of family and self. She is the author of Favorite Folktales from Around the World.