Folk tales in new fiction

Sara Maitland wrote that folk tales speak deeply to us because they are ‘filled with the reverberations of everyone’s dreams’. On this course, we will explore the different ways in which we can harness the strange power of folk tales in our writing.

Folk tales have long been borrowed by writers, from Charles Perrault’s first ‘literary fairy tales’ in Mother Goose, to Angela Carter’s subversive and riotous remixes in The Bloody Chamber, to Lucy Wood’s Cornish folklore-infused Diving Belles.

Such writers have engaged with folk tales in myriad ways, from full-blown rewrites, to weaving in recognisable characters and symbols, to using tales as jumping off points for completely new work.

As well as exploring folk tales themselves, we’ll look at a range of published fiction that demonstrates this range of approaches. This might include stories from writers such as Angela Carter, Marina Warner, Sara Maitland, Donald Barthelme, Joyce Carol Oates, Kirsty Logan, Lucy Wood and more.

We will try out these methods for ourselves, using folk tales, themes, characters and objects in writing exercises throughout the day.

If you have a favourite folk tale, or folk-tale inspired short story or novel, please feel free to bring it along to discuss.

This course is aimed at new or established writers, who are either already experimenting with using folk tales in their writing, or who would like to learn about this approach for the first time.

This one-day workshop will be led by London Lit Lab’s Zoe Gilbert, who is currently completing a Creative Writing PhD on folk tales in new short fiction. Her own book of folk tale-inspired stories is published by Bloomsbury in early 2018. You can find about more about her book, Folk, here, read her award-winning stories online here and here.

Some feedback from writers who attended this course in 2017:

“Really positive – you created a lovely warm, welcoming atmosphere, full of knowledge but also really open to discussion and the ideas being shared by other people.”

“Learnt more today than in a whole MA module.”

“It was a really nice balance of theory and practice, talking and writing.”

“Zoe is a clever and passionate tutor but also caring and considerate.”

“The space is phenomenal.”

“Inspiring, supportive, enjoyable!”

Course fee: £105 early bird bookings. £129 full fee.

Date and time: Saturday 19th May 2017, 10am-4pm (please arrive 15 mins early)

Location: Clapton Laundry, London, E5 8DJ – a luxurious, inspiring space in East London, where a home-cooked lunch will also be provided. For more info, look here.

Places are limited to 12. To book a place, please CLICK HERE.

Please read our booking terms and conditions.

For more information about the course, or for alternative ways to pay, please contact us at