The British Academy Literature Week 2015, now under way, is offering a program heavily weighted towards fairy tales, ghost stories, fantasies, folk myths, and other deliciously imaginative genres. The British Academy, “the UK’s expert body that supports and speaks for the humanities and social sciences – that rich variety of disciplines that study peoples, cultures and societies, past, present and future,” and “funds research across the UK and in other parts of the world, in disciplines ranging from archaeology to economics, from psychology to history, and from literature to law,” has put together a schedule including “Other Worlds… after dark,” delving into fairies and make-believe, a dissertation on Angela Carter and contemporary culture, storytelling and fairy lore from seelie expert Marina Warner under the heading “Into the Woods,” an exploration of African folk tales, and a walking tour of London led by the host of the London Fortean Society, Scott Wood, where you can “hear the secrets of London Bridge, meet the Temple of Mithras and walk the sites of giants, ghosts and lost rivers.”
If that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite for the fanciful and the fantastic, as part of the British Academy’s fourth biennial Literature Week the British Academy, in partnership with Londonist, “asked Londoners to write new fairy tales for modern London.” The four winning stories have been “published in an exclusive Literature Week short story collection, available at all Literature Week events and published online on Londonist.”
In these arid times of austerity and political tension, there can’t be enough tribute paid to the traditions and institutions that helped make Britain greatly fey. May the good fairies bless you, British Academy.