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Joseph Jacobs

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For other people named Joseph Jacobs, see Joseph Jacobs (disambiguation).

Joseph Jacobs


29 August 1854

Sydney, Australia


30 January 1916 (aged 61)

Yonkers, United States


Folklorist, critic, historian

Joseph Jacobs (29 August 1854 30 January 1916) was a folklorist, literary critic and historian. His works included contributions to the Jewish Encyclopedia, translations of European works, and critical editions of early English literature. Jacobs wrote for journals and books on the subject offolklore and produced a popular series of fairy tales.


1 Biography

2 Career

3 Folklore

4 Works

5 References

6 External links



Jacobs was born in Australia. He was the sixth surviving son of John Jacobs, a publican who had emigrated from London c.1837, and his wife Sarah, ne Myers.[1] Jacobs was educated atSydney Grammar School and at the University of Sydney, where he won a scholarship for classics, mathematics and chemistry. He did not complete his studies in Sydney, but left for England at the age of 18 and entered St John's College, Cambridge.[2] He graduated with a B.A. in 1876, and in 1877, studied at the University of Berlin.

Jacobs married Georgina Horne and fathered two sons and a daughter. In 1900, he accepted an invitation to become revising editor of the Jewish Encyclopedia, which was then being prepared at New York, and settled permanently in the United States. He died on 30 January 1916.


Jacobs was secretary of the Society of Hebrew Literature from 1878 to 1884, and in 1882, came into prominence as the writer of a series of articles in The Times on the persecution of Jews in Russia. This led to the formation of the mansion house fund and committee, of which Jacobs was secretary from 1882 to 1900. In 1888, he prepared with Lucien Wolf the Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica: A Bibliographical Guide to AngloJewish History, and in 1890, he edited English Fairy Tales, the first of his series of books offairy tales published during the next 10 years. He wrote many literary articles for the Athenaeum, which published in 1891 the collection, George Eliot, Matthew Arnold, Browning, Newman, Essays and Reviews from the Athenaeum. In the same year appeared his Studies in Jewish Statistics, in 1892, Tennyson and "In Memoriam", and in 1893, his important book on The Jews of AngevinEngland. In 1894, were published his Studies in Biblical archaeology, and An Inquiry into the Sources of the History of the Jews in Spain, in connection with which he was made a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of History of Madrid. His As Others Saw Him, an historical novel dealing with the life of Christ, was published anonymously in 1895, and in the following year hisJewish Ideals and other Essays came out. In this year, he was invited to the United States of America to give a course of lectures on the "Philosophy of Jewish History". The Story of Geographical Discovery was published towards the end of 1898 and ran into several editions. He had been compiling and editing the Jewish Year Book since 1896, and was president of theJewish Historical Society of England in 1898-9. In 1900, he accepted an invitation to become revising editor of the Jewish Encyclopedia, which was then being prepared at New York. He settled permanently in the United States, where he wrote many articles for the Jewish Encyclopedia, and was generally responsible for the style of the whole publication. It was completed in 1906. He then became registrar and professor of English at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. In 1908, he was appointed a member of the board of seven, which made a new English translation of the Bible for the Jewish Publication Society of America. In 1913, he resigned his positions at the seminary to become editor of the American Hebrew. In 1920, Book I of his Jewish Contributions to Civilization, which was practically finished at the time of his death, was published at Philadelphia.

In addition to the books already mentioned, Jacobs edited The Fables of Aesop as First Printed by Caxton (1889), Painter's Palace of Pleasure (1890), Baltaser Gracian's Art of Worldly Wisdom(1892), Howell's Letters (1892), Barlaam and Josaphat (1896), The Thousand and One Nights (6 vols, 1896), and others. Jacobs was also a contributor to the Encyclopdia Britannica, and James Hastings' Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics.


An illustration of the fairy tale A Legend of Knockmany, created by John D. Battenfor Joseph Jacob's collection Celtic Fairy Tales

From 1899-1900 he edited the journal Folklore, and from 1890 to 1916 he edited multiple collections of fairy tales - English Fairy Tales (1890), Celtic Fairy Tales (1892 anthology), More Celtic Fairy Tales (1894), More English Fairy Tales (1894), Indian Fairy Tales (1912), European Folk and Fairy Tales(also known as Europa's Fairy Book)[3] (1916) - which were published with distinguished illustrations by John Dickson Batten. He was inspired in this by the Brothers Grimm and the romantic nationalism common in folklorists of his age; he wished English children to have access to English fairy tales, whereas they were chiefly reading French and German tales;[4] in his own words, "What Perrault began, the Grimms completed." Although he collected many tales under the name of fairy tales, many of them are unusual sorts of tales. Binnorie (in English Fairy Tales)[5] andTamlane (in More English Fairy Tales[6]) are prose versions of ballads, The Old Woman and Her Pig (in English Fairy Tales) is a nursery rhyme, HennyPenny (in English Fairy Tales)is a fable, and The Buried Moon (in More English Fairy Tales) has mythic overtones to an extent unusual in fairy tales. According to his own analysis of English Fairy Tales, "Of the eighty-seven tales contained in my two volumes, thirty-eight are Mrchen proper, tensagas or legends, nineteen drolls, four cumulative stories, six beast tales, and ten nonsense stories."[7]


Earliest English Version of the Fables of Bidpai (1888) Fables of Aesop (1889) English Fairy Tales (1890), which includes:

Tom Tit Tot

Molly Whuppie

The Three Sillies

The Red Ettin

The Rose-Tree

The Golden Arm

The Old Woman and Her Pig

The History of Tom Thumb

How Jack Went to Seek his Fortune

Mr Fox

Mr Vinegar

Lazy Jack

Nix Nought Nothing


Jack Hannaford

Earl Mar's Daughter


Mr Miacca

Mouse and Mouser

Whittington and His Cat

Cap O' Rushes

The Strange Visitor


The Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heugh

Jack and the Beanstalk

The Cat and the Mouse

The Story of the Three Little Pigs

The Fish and the Ring

The Master and His Pupil

The Magpie's Nest

Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse

Kate Crackernuts

Jack and His Golden Snuff-Box

The Cauld Lad of Hilton

The Story of the Three Bears

The Ass, The Table and the Stick

Jack the Giant Killer

Fairy Ointment


The Well of the World's End

Childe Rowland

Master of all Masters

The Three Heads of the Well

Celtic Fairy Tales (1892)

Connla and the Fairy Maiden

The Shee An Gannon and the Gruagach Gaire


The Story-Teller at Fault

The Field of Boliauns

The Sea-Maiden

The Horned Women

A Legend of Knockmany

Conall Yellowclaw

Fair, Brown and Trembling

Hudden and Dudden and Donald O'Neary

Jack and his Master

The Shepherd of Myddvai

Beth Gellert

The Sprightly Tailor

The Tale of Ivan

The Story of Deirdre

Andrew Coffey

Munachar and Manachar

The Battle of the Birds

Gold-Tree and Silver-Tree

Brewery of Eggshells

King O'Toole and his Goose

The Lad with the Goat-Skin

The Wooing of Olwen

Notes and References

Jack and his Comrades

The Jews of Angevin England (1893) More English Fairy Tales (1894)


A Son of Adam

The Golden Ball

The Children in the Wood

My Own Self

The Hobyahs

The Black Bull of Norroway

A Pottle o' Brains

Yallery Brown

The King of England and his Three Sons

Three Feathers

King John and the Abbot of Canterbury

Sir Gammer Vans

Rushen Coatie

Tom Hickathrift

The King o' the Cats

The Hedley Kow


Gobborn Seer

The Stars in the Sky




Puddock, Mousie and Ratton

The Wee Bannock

The Little Bull-Calf

Johnny Gloke

The Wee, Wee Mannie

Coat o' Clay

Habetrot and Scantlie Mab

The Three Cows

Old Mother Wiggle-Waggle

The Blinded Giant



Stupid's Cries

The Pedlar of Swaffham

The Lambton Worm

The Old Witch

The Wise Men of Gotham

The Three Wishes

Princess of Canterbury

The Buried Moon

Studies in Biblical Archaeology (1894) More Celtic Fairy Tales (1894)

The Fate of the Children of Lir

The Russet Dog

Jack the Cunning Thief

Smallhead and the King's Sons

Powel, Prince of Dyfed

The Legend of Knockgrafton

Paddy O'Kelly and the Weasel


The Black Horse

The Leeching of Kayn's leg

The Vision of MacConglinney

How Fin went to the Kingdom of the Big Men

Dream of Owen O'Mulready

How Cormac Mac Art went to Faery


The Ridere of Riddles

The Story of the McAndrew Family

The Tail

The Farmer of Liddesdale

The Greek Princess and the Young Gardener

Contributor to the Jewish Encyclopedia, from 1900 Indian Fairy Tales (1912)

The Lion and the Crane

The Gold-Giving Serpent

[How the Raja's Son won the Princess Labam]

The Son of Seven Queens

The Lambikin

A Lesson for Kings


Pride Goes Before a Fall

The Broken Pot

Raja Rasalu

The Magic Fiddle

The Ass in the Lion's Skin

The Cruel Crane Outwitted

The Farmer and the Money-Lender

Loving Laili

The Boy who had a Moon on his Forehead and a Star on his Chin

The Tiger, the Brahman, and the Jackal

The Prince and the Fakir

The Soothsayers Son

Why the Fish Laughed


The Demon with the Matted Hair

The Charmed Ring

The Ivory City and its Fairy Princess

The Talkative Tortoise

Sun, Moon, and Wind go out to Dinner

A Lac of Rupees for a Piece of Advice

How the Wicked Sons were Duped

The Pigeon and the Crow

European Folk and Fairy Tales (also known as Europa's Fairy Book)[3] (1916)


Day Dreaming

All Change

Keep Cool

The King of the Fishes

The Master Thief


The Unseen Bridegroom

Beauty and the Beast

The Master-Maid

Reynard and Bruin

A Visitor From Paradise

The Dancing Water, Singing Apple, and Speaking Bird

Inside Again

The Language of Animals

John the True

The Three Soldiers

Johnnie and Grizzle

A Dozen At a Blow

The Clever Lass

The Earl of Cattenborough


The Swan Maidens


Androcles and the Lion