My research indicates that:
- Marie Clothilde Balfour resided in the village of Redbourne in the Lincolnshire Carrs from 1887 to 1889, having been born in Edinburgh, and having spent her early years in New Zealand before residing in Scotland and England prior to the collection of the stories. She had moved to Northumberland by 1891 where she collected folklore from printed sources for the County Folklore series. She also continued to collect folk tales but chose not to send these to Folklore, preferring instead to send them to Joseph Jacobs for inclusion in his More English Fairy Tales.
There was no payment for submissions to Folklore by the Folklore Society, and athough Balfour was acknowledged in the journal, the tales did not gain widespread recognition or fame for their collector and though Balfour may have benefited from the contacts made through the Society in her pursuit of a literary career, she did not gain materially from the collection of the Legends.
The content of the stories, and the lengthy introduction by Balfour, reflect a commonly held interest by nineteenth century folklorists, in the survival of primitive culture and traditions.
The folklore contained within the Legends, whilst much of it could be found in various parts of Britain, is in the main linked to Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.
Similarly the dialect, particularly the vocabulary and grammar, indicate the same origins, and lead to the assumption that Balfour had a good ear for dialect and phraseology but an inconsistent approach to recording such sound. A number of people from North Lincolnshire, who are familiar with the sound of the spoken word using dialect, are able to read the untranslated Legends.
There are clues within the Legends and the introductions to enable the tracing of the tellers of Tiddy Mun, The Dead Moon (and Sam'l's Ghost) and Yallery Brown. This information has been included within my thesis for which I hope to find a publisher.
The Legends are full of features which indicate that they are from the oral tradition, namely simple sentences, narrative phrases, repetition, poetic devices, onamatopoeic words. These features have enabled the tales to be easily picked up from collections by revival storytellers (those that tell stories rather than read them).
Balfour, whilst she became a published writer after the collection of the Legends, does not appear to have been very successful in this career. She wrote a number of short stories, most of which were set in France, and which are low on dialogue and bear no resemblance to the Legends. The only piece of writing that can be compared to the content collected in the Carrs is a small section in her novel The Fall of the Sparrow which was partially set in a fictitious village in the Carrs. This novel includes storytelling within the vicarage and passages from the Dead Moon.