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Online links to stories/info - Gypsy-Gypsies-Roma
SOS: Searching Out Stories/Info-Gypsy-Gypsies-Roma
Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers,
Teachers and Librarians


Online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more stories and information.
Story titles are in italics.
To retell any stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
Short descriptions included for your convenience and to save you research time.
The Gypsy Lore Society
Russian Gypsy Tales collected by Yefim Druts and Alexei Gessler, translated by James Riordan. Revised edition. [Where to buy]
"A grand collection...The stories are splendid..."-Kirkus Reviews
Timeline of Romani History.
The Patrin Web Journal: Romani Culture and History.
Gypsy History.
Crimson Gypsy Links
Gypsy History/Lore from Gypsy Advice & Gypsy Girl Press.
Gypsy history.
Roma people from Wikipedia.
Roma (Gypsy) Origins & History.
Spain - The Gypsies.
Romani people in Spain from Wikipedia.
Gypsies - The Early History.
France - The Pilgramage in Saintes Maries de la Mer.
Doug Martin: Learn the History of Gypsy Jazz Music.
June - Gypsy History Month from Gypsy Roma Traveller.
The history of Gypsy Travellers in Britain.
England - The Gypsies in England: Important Historical Dates.

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Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians
(excerpts from Storytell posts plus origiinal research)

Book titles, movie titles and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Story and song titles are in italics.
To retell any stories, obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
Posts are added chronologically as they are received by Story Lovers World.

1) Ruth Sawyer's books of Christmas stories are my favorites.
This Way to Christmas (Dodo Press)
The Long Christmas
This was the Christmas is a wonderful collection of tales that are both delightful and not well known. The title story This Was The Christmas about a rejected blind gypsy orphan who encounters both a Serbian village's prejudice and then the Christ Child. Another in it is The Precious Herbs of Christmas.

2) The Queen of the Tinkers in Seamus McManus' Hibernian Nights. It also appears in Ruth Sawyer's The Way of the Storyteller as The Princess and the Vagabond. An unruly princess in rebellion against her father, is offered to the first eligible man she will take - a gypsy tinker - though the offer to marry the crown prince remains open till the wedding day - she accepts his wandering life of misfortune - finally turns down the crown prince at the wedding to be with her tinker - only to discover the tinker is the crown prince testing her love for him. Tinkers, Vagabones, are i.e. Gypsies.

3) James Riordan has a nice collection of Russian Gypsy Tales (International Folk Tales Series) with a nice introduction on the Rom or Romaly.

4) James Riordan's Tales from Central Russia: Russian Tales Book One; [Vol 2. contains stories of the Tartars]. He also has a book: Russian Gypsy Tales (International Folk Tales Series). Thomas Whitney's In a Certain Kingdom: Twelve Russian Fairy Tales has twelve tales. Older volumes included Tales from atop a Russian stove, Arthur Ransome's Old Peter's Russian Tales and Favorite Russian Fairy Tales (Dover Children's Thrift Classics). There are also collections of Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Russia by Amabel Williams-Ellis and Virginia Haviland. And Fairy Tales of Eastern Europe by Neil Philip. There are lots of picture book versions of these individual Fairy tales as well.

5) Here's is eldrbarry's Why Cats Sit on the Doorstep in the Sun is a Romanian Tale:
Adapted it from Fairy Tales of Eastern Europe by Neil Philip.

6) A few Welsh Gypsy stories in With harp, fiddle and folktale: The story of John Roberts of Newtown, celebrated 19th century Welsh harpist, violinist and Romany story-teller by E. Ernest Roberts and it's still in print.

7) There's a new book out this year which I think is called The Scholar Gypsy: The Quest for a Family Secret about the man who spent all the time he could with the Welsh Gypsies in North Wales. It's by his grandson and is easily available. There aren't stories in it the way collections have them. It's more the story of this man's grandson figuring out his grandfather's bohemian life and is very interesting reading.

All the other ones are OOP found in either in St. Ffagan's or the National Library in Aberystwyth, not too easy to find in the U.S.

8) The Mosquito - Gypsy Folktales by Diane Tong.

9) Stories of the Welsh Romanies, or Teulu Abram Wood as they're known here. Abram Wood is the legendary patriarch of the Welsh Romanies who arrived in Wales about two hundred years ago bringing with him the first fiddle to be played here, anyway in the stories, which were collected in Romany by the The Scholar Gypsy: The Quest for a Family Secret John Sampson from Abram's great grandson Mattew Wood who was trilingual Welsh, Romany and English there is a corker of a Cinderella called Geneth Fach y Lludw - the Little Ash Girl...

10) For the book, The Welsh Gypsies by A.O.H. Jarman (Welsh scholar) and his wife who is partly Romany, many tales are taken from The Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society (UK), and a couple of books published by collectors but they may not be in print.

11) Some other suggestions:

a) Diane Tong's Gypsy Folktales, 1989.

b) Jean Ure's Pacala and Tandala, and other Rumanian folk-tales, 1960, has some gypsy tales. It is catalogued in MRM's Storytellers Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children.

c) Gypsy Tales by Eric and Nancy Protter, The Lion Press, 1967 (also printed earlier by McLeod in Canada)

d) Gypsy Folk Tales by M. Voriskava. London, Paul Hamlyn, 1966.

12) As a result the Rom were huddled in their caravans, having nowhere else to go, and passing the time with old stories of gypsy cunning.

13) The Gypsy's Fiddle (no known source)
There once was a gypsy who was the most famous fiddler in the land. His fiddle had been passed down to him from grandfather to father to son and it was whispered that the fiddle probably could play itself, it had been played so often. And when this gypsy played, then people would stop working, children would stop playing and the old would leave their fires and all would come and dance to his tunes. The devil heard of the fiddle and decided he wanted it for himself.

14) Just checked a book called Gypsy Folktales edited by Diane Tong, which I picked up as a remainder at Barnes and Noble a few years ago. It has an index by country and has two tales from Romania in it. One is called The Jealous Husband, the other The Red King and the Witch. In The Jealous Husband a wealthy and possessive merchant wagers his estate with another merchant that his wife would not take a lover. He promises to pay if the second merchant can tell where her birthmark is and take a gold ring from her finger. With the help of a treacherous old woman, the merchant has a chest made with a window in it and gets it into the woman's room. There he discovers the birthmark - a mole beneath her left breast - and manages to steal her ring. The woman's husband, thinking himself betrayed sets her afloat on the Danube - to make this short - she eventually is rescued, and through a dream cures the emperor of his blindness and is made emperor. Meanwhile, her husband having lost his wealth and is working as a poor water carrier. Eventually, she has her vengeance on the merchant who won the bet and reconciles with her husband, making him emperor.The plot of The Red King is so complex, that a summary would not do it justice. It involves a baby in swaddling clothes who is really a witch in disguise, a younger son who seeks a wife in a place where there is neither death nor old age and a Rip Van Winkle-like ending.There are notes for each story.

Here are the notes for The Red King and the Witch; This tale was first published in Rumania in 1878 in a collection by Dr. Barbu Constantinescu. In 1899 Francis Hindes Groome included it in his collection Gypsy Folk Tales (Forgotten Books) with the claim that it was probably the most original work in his book. For example, he points out that the somersault that precedes a transformation in Gypsy tales has no known parallel in non-Gypsy folklore. But the test of the three brothers, the quest of the youngest , and his attempt to escape old age and death make this a universal tale as well as an original one.

Added comment: The Red King and the Witch.
I have the latter in a book by Ruth Manning-Saunders entitled The Red King and the Witch: Gypsy Folk and Fairy Tales. Unfortunately, being a children's book it doesn't have source notes - some are identified as English and one as Polish, and others I recognise. I suspect it has also been toned down, e.g. Jack just looks at the beautiful princess in the castle, whereas in a similar story she turns up looking for him a year later with a son!

The Jealous Husband: Notes: The popularity of this tale in both oral and literary traditions reflects the eternal status of jealousy as an issue in relationships. The theme of the wager on the wife's chastity figures in Shakespeare's Cymbeline and also in Boccacciok, the probable source for this plot element of Shakespeare's play. This Gypsy version is one of several folktales and songs published by Dr. Franz Miklosich in 1874 in Romani and Latin. Groome writes in his introduction, "They were collected by rofessor Leo Kirilowicz, of Czernowicz, but when, where, or from whom is not told." Let me know if you're not able to locate this book. I will photocopy the stories and send them to you.

15) George Borrow and Walter Fitzwiliam Starkie were the primary 19th- 20th-century gorgio writers about gypsies, though there was a woman -- Juliette Levy, I think was/is her name -- who wrote about her adventures with them about 1950, signing off with a vague hint that she was about to go off with a "golden gypsy" she had met. Irish travellers/tinkers are a repository of much that has been forgotten or overshadowed in Modern Ireland. Dublin storyteller/actor Jack Lynch is organising a do on 12 January at the Cobblestone pub in Dublin with traveller and buffer musicians and storytellers, including some big names, for the purpose of paying tribute to travellers' contribution to Irish culture. Travellers in Ireland are the underclass. Those who don't like them call them "knackers", which sounds like and is used the same way as "niggers." (The proprietor of the Cobblestone, Tom Mulligan, bears an uncanny resemblance to ex-President Clinton. His brother is Neillie Mulligan, perhaps the finest uillean pir in Ireland today -- my favourite, anyway.)

A lot of travellers' stories do not deal with travellers and gypsies per se. They are often the sort of stories settled people used to tell before they became modernised. Liz Weir -- the mother of storytelling in Ireland -- told one at the Dublin Yarnspinners earlier this year that she had just heard from a traveller woman in Mountjoy Jail.

Young village woman sees red dress in shop - "I'd give my soul ..." Strange man appears: "Do you mean that?" Girl, unthinking: "Yes." Man buys dress, they go to dance, he walks her home, on way he suggests shortcut across bridge, she says local people don't use that bridge at night, he says she will be safe with him, convinces her, they get to middle of bridge, smoke rises, his eyes turn fiery, cloven hoofs appear, he demands her soul, she screams, priest living nearby hears, comes, says "Take my soul instead", devil agrees priest's soul is worth more than girl's, girl escapes, brings people. They find no trace of devil or priest, only priest's collar. That bridge (location unspecified) is now fenced off with barbed wire and no one goes near it even in daytime. An important element is that travellers would tend to tell this sort of story as a true happening, not a folk tale. Jeremy Sandford's c. 1970s Gypsies has a number of accounts of travellers and gypsies, including the mini-autobiography of Pops Johnny Connors, a hero of near-legendary status among Irish travellers.

Response: There is a similar Jewish story of a young woman coveting a "modern" wedding dress, given to her as a gift by Lilith -- she is to marry a demon but is saved by her fiance. It is in one of Howard Schwartz's books and has been recorded by Annette Harrison. A chilling story!

16) This link may be of interest: National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups Network Websiste

17) There is a gypsy story of a man who is sick of all his wealth and things and cattle, and so he goes to a witch to find out how to lose all of his wealth. She tells him to eat his bread standing up, but when he does so, nothing changes- because he was catching the crumbs to keep from wasting them. She tells him to waste the crumbs and let them fall to the floor, and when he does so everything he owns is destroyed by floods, misfortune, etc. until finally TOO MUCH is lost and he frantically stops wasting his bread... finally he evens out at a comfortable level of wealth and wastes no more bread.
Aubra P. 4/6/05

18) I am writing to tell you about Romano Bumburumbum picture book, the result of our Roma picture book project. If you could help us to raise awareness of the project we would be really grateful.

The Roma picture book was prepared by Akademia Pstry, The Children's Society and a group of 7 to 14 years old talented Roma (Gypsy) children living in East London but coming from Poland and Slovakia.

This book is a first-ever book illustrated by pinhole photography and it teaches people about Roma culture. 1,500 copies of the book were given away for free at public events around London. Especially for this events, the horse-run caravan have been transformed into the big camera obscura.

Roma are the biggest ethnic minority living in Europe, they originated from India about one thousand years ago. Their culture is so rich with stories and songs that have been passed down verbally for generations that story-telling sessions can go on for many hours. For centuries these stories have been told only to a chosen few, but now everybody has the chance to enjoy them.

Our group of Roma children has chosen to work with a traditional story of a family threatened by the mysterious Bumburumbum living secretly at the top of their house. One-day, mum sends her children to fetch the smoked meat from the attic for her cooking, but they don't return and it is only when dad returns to a silent house that the Bumburumbum finally meets its match.

With help of Akademia Pastry's artists and The Children's Society's project workers, the group of young people have illustrated the story using pinhole photographs. This little-known technique is not only a cheaper alternative to digital photography; it is also very environmentally friendly. Using cardboard boxes, paper and chemicals no longer needed by professional labs, children made their own cameras and developed their own photos. In the midst of the credit crunch, the group is showing you don't need expensive digital cameras to produce professional photographs.

These young Roma are now ready to share their knowledge with the public. During Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month (June) they will be taking to the streets of Newham and the South Bank to give away copies of their books to parents and children as well as teaching members of the public how to do pinhole photography themselves. Especially for this events, the horse-run caravan will be transformed into the big camera obscura.

Akademia Pstryk is an art group using pinhole photography as a means of social change through empowering communities. We run workshops where participants prepare photographic cameras from everyday objects and are encouraged to follow their independent creativity.

The Children's Society is a leading national charity committed to making childhood better for all children. For 13 years we have been working in partnership with young Roma in East London on issues such as education, health and cultural awareness raising. For more information check:

The Roma picture book project was financially supported by The Arts Council, the Consulate of the Republic of Poland and The Children's Society.
Marta Kotlarska
tell: 0778 981 3378

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Created 2005; last update 8/9/09

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