Edwin & Mona A. Radford,
Encyclopedia of Superstitions
(Philosophical Library, 1949;
Greenwood, 1969;
revised: Metro, 2002)

This book has been around for a long time and has been published by several companies. I own the 1949 edition that was published by the Philosophical Library. It has 269 slightly yellowed pages of the finest in British folklore and old wives' tales to be found.

In the introduction, J.A. Hammerton discusses how customs are based upon superstitions. The authors go further into detail in the preface by stating that they have tried to distinguish customs from superstitions. They spent four years researching this book and have compiled more than 2,000 superstitions that span more than 600 years. They examine whether these superstitions are actually British or if there is a common current running through all peoples of the world that allows them to come to the same conclusions about their feelings and fears. They cite several examples where British superstitions match those in Africa or other countries.

The listings are alphabetical by word or phrase. They are logical and simple to use, but you have to be specific about what you are seeking. For example, dropping a fork is listed under "dropping," not "fork" and looking under the bed is listed under "looking," not "bed." All known superstitions related to the topic are listed in order beneath the heading.

I love to get comfortable with this book and read the entire thing. It will tickle your spirit and is guaranteed to entertain you. It is also quite handy as a reference, though it does not provide recommended readings.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 17 May 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.