'The Creation of a Fairy Tale Performance: 'The King of the Herrings' from John Sampson to Daniel Morden'

Mike Wilson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


In 2006 Welsh storyteller Daniel Morden teamed up with a trio of musicians to create a show entitled The Devil's Violin, which continues to tour the UK to critical acclaim. The show draws its inspiration from the collection of folktales collected by the philologist and folklorist John Sampson from the Wood family of gypsies from North Wales in the closing years of the nineteenth century and the first two decades of the twentieth. Many of the stories Sampson collected were published in The Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society and a selection appeared posthumously in Welsh Gypsy Folktales, published by Gregynog Press in 1933. Morden himself has published retellings of some of these stories in Dark Tales from the Woods (Pont Books, 2006). This paper looks at one particular story, 'The King of the Herrings', and explores the process by which Morden has worked from the Sampson text to turn the story into a piece of contemporary performance storytelling. The paper compares the characteristics of the Sampson text and both the written and performance texts created by Morden and interrogates the creative journey of the contemporary professional storyteller in using authentic folklore texts as a basis for the construction of performances for modern audiences. It also considers the context of the performance for both Sampson and Morden and its effect upon the creation of the text and, in particular, the non-verbal elements of the performance text and performance strategies of the storyteller. The paper is accompanied by appropriate video clips of Morden's performance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationN/A
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2009
Event ‘The Fairy Tale after Angela Carter’ Conference - University of East Anglia
Duration: 1 Apr 20091 Apr 2009


Conference ‘The Fairy Tale after Angela Carter’ Conference


  • storytelling
  • welsh folk tales
  • daniel morden


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