The Ingoldsby Legends

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The Ingoldsby Legends
Author Thomas Ingoldsby
Illustrator Arthur Rackham
Cover artist Arthur Rackham
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Humorous verse & prose short stories
Publisher J. M. Dent (R. Bentley & Son)
Publication date
1840, 1842, 1847, 1879 (and 1885)
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 3 vols.

The Ingoldsby Legends is a collection of myths, legends, ghost stories and poetry written supposedly by Thomas Ingoldsby of Tappington Manor, actually a pen-name of an English clergyman named Richard Harris Barham.

The legends were first printed during 1837 as a regular series in the magazine Bentley's Miscellany and later in New Monthly Magazine. The legends were illustrated by John Leech, George Cruikshank, John Tenniel, and Arthur Rackham. They proved immensely popular and were compiled into books published in 1840, 1842 and 1847 by Richard Bentley. They remained popular during the 19th century but have since become little known. An omnibus edition was published in 1870: The Ingoldsby Legends, or Mirth and Marvels. [Also known: A publication by W.J. Widdleton 1864, New York, The Ingoldsby Legends, or Mirth and Marvels by Thomas Ingoldsby, Esq., The Rev. Richard Harris Barham Globe Edition, Two volumes in one, with Cruikshanks' Illustrations.] A later omnibus edition, printed in 1989 by JM Dent of London contained illustrations by Arthur Rackham.

As a priest of the Chapel Royal, Barham was not troubled with strenuous duties and he had ample time to read and compose stories. Although based on real legends and mythology, such as the "hand of glory", they are mostly deliberately humorous parodies or pastiches of medieval folklore and poetry.

The collection contains one of the earliest transcriptions of the song "A Franklyn's Dogge", an early version of the modern children's song "Bingo". Other than this, the best-known poem of the collection is the Jackdaw of Rheims about a jackdaw, who steals a cardinal's ring, and is made a saint. When Denton's village pub was renamed in 1963, it was to the tales the brewery looked for inspiration. The Jackdaw Inn, also the setting for the famous 1969 film Battle of Britain (film), can be found in the heart of Denton village.

List of chapters[edit]

The chapters include:

Allusions and references in other works[edit]

  • In Patrick Leigh Fermor's A Time of Gifts, Chapter 11 "The Marches of Hungary". p. 312, on seeing a remarkably dressed old Hungarian soldier or official in a coach near the Danube in 1934, complete with brown fur and gold chain around his shoulders, a medal around his neck, and a scimitar across one knee: "('Twould have made you crazy' - the lines suddenly surfaced after years of oblivion - 'to see Esterhazy / with jools from his jasey / to his diamond boots.' Yes, indeed.)" [A jasey is a wig, the word possibly deriving from the garment a jersey.]
  • In H. Rider Haggard's 1885 novel King Solomon's Mines, Allan Quatermain describes himself as non-literary, claiming to have read regularly only the Bible and the Ingoldsby Legends. Later in the novel he quotes a poem that he attributes incorrectly to The Ingoldsby Legends, its actual source being Sir Walter Scott's epic poem Marmion.
  • In Henry James's 1888 essay "From London", his stay at Morley's Hotel[clarification needed] (and the recollection of the four-poster bed) brings to mind "The Ingoldsby Legends", he 'scarce knows why'.
  • In Sarah Grand's 1897 novel The Beth Book, the narrator and main character, Beth, mentions the Ingoldsby Legends as a favorite of her childhood and recites a passage from "The Execution" that appears in the collection.
  • In Anthony Powell's 1968 The Military Philosophers, Nick Jenkins mentions reading The Ingoldsby Legends when he needs relaxation from Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time.
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers's The Nine Tailors, Lord Peter Wimsey quotes from The Ingoldsby Legends, as he also does in her Five Red Herrings.
  • In Chapter 7 of Half Magic by Edward Eager, Katherine reads from The Ingoldsby Legends.
  • Edmund Wilson referenced the Ingoldsby Legends in Memoirs of Hecate County when he states that his friend, "staggered in tonight like the jackdaw of Rheims, cursed by bell and book, ---". The two main characters then discuss the Ingoldsby Legends.
  • Kentish folk band Los Salvadores song Smugglers' Leap is based on the story of the same name featured in the Ingoldsby Legends.
  • P.G. Wodehouse refers to The Ingoldsby Legends in his novel A Prefect's Uncle (1903), comparing his title character to the lady in the earlier work "who didn't mind death, but who couldn't stand pinching".
  • Ngaio Marsh refers to The Ingoldsby Legends in Death in a White Tie. Troy tells about coming across Lord Tomnoddy and the hanging and the 'extraordinary impression' it had on her. She also makes references in Surfeit of Lampreys, the second time (Chapter 19 Part 4) with reference to The Hand of Glory.
  • The narrator in the short story The Red Room (Wells) by H. G. Wells refers to making up rhymes about the legend 'Ingoldsby fashion' to calm himself.
  • It has been discussed at length that the oldest documented usage of the phrase "two shakes of a lamb's tail" can be found within this compilation of Barham's works. Evidences of this are found within the chapters The Babes In The Wood; Or, The Norfolk Tragedy (p. 344), A Row In An Omnibus (Box): A Legend Of The Haymarket (p. 359), and The Lay Of St Aloys: A Legend Of Blois (p. 380). (See external links below for full text download.) This phrase has been attributed more modern-day importance since nuclear scientists during WWII coined a new unit of measure termed a "shake", a very short unit of time, originally related to the Manhattan Project.
  • In Angela Thirkell's novel Miss Bunting (1946) the Ingoldsby Legends are referred to repeatedly (along with Butler, Byron and W.S. Gilbert) for comic effect as the Mixo-Slavian maid must study them very seriously in her cultural classes as examples of English humour.

External links[edit]