Dr. Jacqueline Simpson

Internationally acclaimed expert upon European folklore
Dr Jacqueline Simpson © Robert Flach

Dr. Jacqueline Simpson

Internationally acclaimed expert upon European folklore


Dr Jacqueline Simpson lives in Worthing, where she was born and went to school at Sion Convent. She has served on the Committee of the Folklore Society since 1966, holding office at various times as Editor of Folklore, as Secretary, and as President.

There was a time, somewhere back in the 1950s, when Jacqueline was a very serious young lady, very seriously studying English Literature and Old Norse at London University. But within this literature lurked creatures of fantasy – ancient warriors, dragons, trolls, the undead, magic, curses, quests – to which she was mysteriously drawn (her mother blamed herself for this, having given the child Tales of King Arthur at far too early an age). And so in due course she became a folklorist.

Jacqueline later became interested in Scandinavian and British folklore, on which she has written numerous books and articles. She has a particular interest in local legends, especially those of Sussex. Her books include Icelandic Folktales and Legends (1972, 2004), The Folklore of Sussex (1973, 2002), British Dragons (1980, 2001), Scandinavian Folktales (1988), The Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore (2000, in collaboration with Steve Roud), The Folklore of Discworld (2008, in collaboration with Terry Pratchett), and Green Men and White Swans: The Folklore of British Pub Names (2010).

In The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England’s Legends (2005, in collaboration with Jennifer Westwood) Jacqueline addresses the case of the Highgate ‘vampire’, from a predominately sociological viewpoint, revisiting the applied concepts of legend tripping and ostention theory suggested by American professor Bill Ellis in his 1993 paper The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Hunt: The Anglo American Connection in Satanic Cult Lore for the journal of The Folklore Society, and expounded upon in his book of 2000 Raising the Devil.

At the Highgate Vampire Symposium 2015 Jacqueline will be speaking about a specific type of ostension which there was no room to discuss in The Lore of the Land, namely the way individuals and groups, and even in some cases crowds, set out to hunt down an alleged ghost or monster. Folklorist Sandy Hobbs of the University of the West of Scotland has discussed this with Scottish examples, and there are several instances in the Spring-Heel Jack saga. We look forward to hearing Jacqueline’s interpretations of the bedlam which ensued at Highgate Cemetery some four decades back, most notably on the night of Friday March 13th 1970 when hundreds of young people descended upon the dilapidated burial ground in search of ‘the King Vampire of the Undead’.

All sessions featuring Dr. Jacqueline Simpson

The Vampire Theory

15:50 - 17:20