Edward . Corbett and the Telling of Folk Tales

  • 29 Oct 2021
  • Folklore
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Edward C. Corbett was a solicitor who gave up his practice to travel rough around the world. He had a flair for languages and in the period after the 1914-18 War travelled as a overseas representative for Lea & Perrins promoting Worcestershire Sauce. At a time when people thought it eccentric, he lived on an old canal boat in Diglis Basin. He was a friend of Matley Moore, 'oand l often met him at week-ends at the cottage on Powick Ham. In later years (c.1946). I saw him very infrequently, he was almost blind and appeared very old. He was a snuff-taker, and not concerned with his appearance. He had a great interest in folk-lore, and was a wonderful story-teller of the old school, regarding it seriously as an art. I still recall with deep pleasure the evenings spent in the deep wing armchair, beside the great log fire, listening to him until the fire had burnt to ashes'.  

In 1944, he gave a talk to the Worcestershire Archaeological Society on folk lore, and l quote from his introduction:

'In modern times the telling of tales has been superseded by the reading of books... so the telling of tales has passed, both as an art or a diversion, to the illiterate who do not read, and to gather them from such a source is far from easy; it takes two to make such a trove, a teller who is willing to talk. In England both are rare, for the rustic Englishman who fears neither man nor weather, beast or devil, be mortal afeared of being laughed at, and will talk only to one who shows the simple faith that finds nothing too hard to believe; and such faith is seldom found or recognised in any but children and sages of very wide experience'.