Storytellers of wonder

A plea by J. Linwood Pitts, Secretary of the Folk Lore section of the Societe Guernesiaise, then the Guernsey Society for Natural History and Local Research) in their Report and Transactions of 1904, p. 313

One branch of Guernsey Folklore which very badly needs working up—if it be not already too late—is the collection and recording of the ancient Folk-stories that, in years gone by, figured so prominently at social gatherings on the Long Night, or at other similar festive or family reunions. There used to be in every parish, one or more men or women, who possessed a marvellous stock of these wonder-stories, which they narrated with a considerable degree of skill, greatly to the delight of their auditors. The narrator was often the village shoemaker or tailor—or in the case of women, perhaps the dressmaker. They used to go out to work at the homes of their different customers in turn, and the 'oft told tales' with which they enlivened their labour, added much to the general enjoyment of the occasion. In fact, I have often been told that this Folklore budget was really a valuable commercial asset; because, other things being equal, the out-worker who enjoyed the reputation of being a skilled and graphic storyteller, had important preferential chances of employment, beyond what fell to the lot of trade rivals who though, perhaps quite as skilful with the needle, were not equally gifted as trouvères and folklorists. I am afraid, however, that all these interesting old worthies have long since passed away, and doubtless the flight of time has also destroyed the traces of most of their strange and weird legends. But if any of the latter do yet remain—though in but a fragmentary form—I hope any of our members who meet with them, will carefully jot down the details. He then proceeds to report a charm for curing toothache. His prayers for the survival of the strange and weird folk-tales of Guernsey were in fact answered immediately, with the publication of the late Edgar MacCulloch's Guernsey Folk Lore, edited by Edith Carey.