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Roma wagon circa 1900. (Public Domain Image)

Gypsy Folk Tales

by Francis Hindes Groome


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Francis Hindes Groome was one of the small group of 19th century folklorists who immersed themselves in Roma (Gypsy) life. This was in the heroic period of the study of folklore, when devoted scholars built up the field from scratch. Even then, however, it was obvious that there were universal story motifs that spanned continents and cultures. Groome hypothesized that the nomadic Roma had been a primary conduit for the transfer of a common body of stories across a broad region of Eurasia.

Today we know that many of these themes not only span Eurasia, but are present in the folklore of people in Africa, Polynesia, Australia, and the New World, who are separated by millennia and oceans from Europe. The fairy-tale narrative of a protagonist of humble origin who goes on magical journeys of transformation, aided by animal guides, tales of tricksters, and evil step-relations are found around the world. So diffusion is less attractive as a hypothesis. These stories seem to be embedded in the deep structure of our consciousness.

This book is a treasure trove of classic 'Gypsyology', and makes fascinating reading for everyone interested in the Roma people and folklore in general. These are not watered down 'fairy tales,' but sophisticated and often earthy stories, with 'Adult situations.' Groome edited this material with a very light hand, and made no attempt to correct plot holes or inconsistencies, as in the some of the more bowdlerized 19th century folklore books. He simply lets the story teller weave their spell on us.

Title Page


Distribution of Gypsies
Appearance in West
At Bologna
At Paris
In England
In Scotland
In North America
In South America.
In Australia
In Crete.
In Corfu.
In the Peloponnesus.
In Roumania
The Chaltsmide
Nails of Crucifixion
Gypsy Language
Gypsies as Nomads
'Greek Gypsies.'
Eastern Gypsies in Galloway.
Gypsy Folk-tales
Campbell of Islay
Dr. F. Müller
Dr. Paspati
Dr. Barbu Constantinescu
Dr. R. von Sowa
Dr. Kopernicki
John Roberts
Mr. John Sampson
Campbell of Islay
Boat-dwelling Tinkers
Theory as to Gypsy Folk-tales
Gypsy variants
Unique Features
Literary Sources
Questions of Date
Indian Parallels
Tokens of Recent Diffusion
The Anthropological Theory
Gypsy savagery
Gypsy Migrations
Gypsy originality
Gaelic and Welsh-Gypsy stories
Other Parallels
Irish and Gypsy Folk-tales
Gypsy story-tellers
Story-Telling a living Gypsy art
Possible Gypsy influences

Chapter I. Turkish-Gypsy Stories

No. 1.--The Dead Man's Gratitude
No. 2.--Baldpate
No. 3.--The Riddle
No. 4.--Story of the Bridge

Chapter II. Roumanian-Gypsy Stories

No. 5.--The Vampire
No. 6.--God's Godson
No. 7.--The Snake who became the King's Son-in-law
No. 8.--The Bad Mother
No. 9.--The Mother's Chastisement
No. 10.--The Three Princesses and the Unclean Spirit
No. 11.--The Two Thieves
No. 12.--The Gypsy and the Priest
No. 13.--The Watchmaker
No. 14.--The Red King and the Witch
No. 15.--The Prince and the Wizard
No. 16.--The Apples of Pregnancy

Chapter III. Bukowina-Gypsy Stories

No. 17.--It all comes to Light
No. 18.--The Golden Children
No. 19.--The Two Children
No. 20.--Mare's Son
No. 21.--The Deluded Dragon
No. 22.--The Gypsy and the Dragon
No. 23.--The Seer
No. 24.--The Prince, his Comrade, and Nastasa the Fair
No. 25.--The Hen that laid Diamonds
No. 26.--The Winged Hero
No. 27.--Tropsyn
No. 28.--The Beautiful Mountain
No. 29.--Pretty-face
No. 30.--The Rich and the Poor Brother
No. 31--The Three Brothers
No. 32.--The Enchanted City
No. 33.--The Jealous Husband
No. 34.--Made over to the Devil
No. 35.--The Lying Story
No. 36.--Happy Boz’ll

Chapter IV. Transylvanian-Gypsy Stories

No. 37.--The Creation of the Violin
No. 38.--The Three Golden Hairs of the Sun-King
No. 39.--The Dog and the Maiden
No. 40.--Death the Sweetheart

Chapter V. Slovak, Moravian, and Bohemian Gypsy Stories

No. 41.--The Three Girls
No. 42.--The Dragon
No. 43.--The Princess and the Forester's Son
No. 44.--The Three Dragons

Chapter VI. Polish-Gypsy Stories

No. 45.--Tale of a Foolish Brother and of a Wonderful Bush
No. 46.--Tale of a Girl who was sold to the Devil, and of her Brother
No. 47.--The Brigands and the Miller's Daughter
No. 48.--Tale of a Wise Young Jew and a Golden Hen
No. 49.--The Golden Bird and the Good Hare
No. 50.--The Witch

Chapter VII. English-Gypsy Stories

No. 51.--Bobby Rag
No. 52.--De Little Fox
No. 53.--De Little Bull-calf

Chapter VIII. Welsh-Gypsy Stories

No. 54.--Jack and his Golden Snuff-box
No. 55.--An Old King and his three Sons in England
No. 56.--The Five Trades
No. 57.--Ashypelt
No. 58.--Twopence-Halfpenny
No. 59.--The Old Smith
No. 60.--The Old Soldier
No. 61.--The Dragon
No. 62.--The Green Man of Noman's Land
No. 63.--The Black Lady
No. 64.--The Ten Rabbits
No. 65.--The Three Wishes
No. 66.--Fairy Bride
No. 67.--Cinderella
No. 68.--Jack the Robber
No. 69.--The Fool with the Sheep
No. 70.--The Tinker and his Wife
No. 71.--Winter
No. 72.--The Black Dog of the Wild Forest

Chapter IX. Scottish-Tinker Stories

No. 73.--The Brown Bear of the Green Glen
No. 74.--The Tale of the Soldier
No. 75.--The Fox
No. 76.--The Magic Shirt


De New Han’
John Bunyan