Storytelling Resources on the Web
[last updated 6/9/00]
Many good medieval storytelling sources may be found on the World Wide
Web. I am indebted to Cariadoc, for suggesting many of these books, and to
Wes Will (firstname.lastname@example.org)
and Greg Lindahl (email@example.com)
for providing many of the locations. If you notice any of these links
to have moved or vanished, please
One warning before we start: Most of the material listed here got
on the Web at least partially because it was not protected by copyright.
This means that the translations of non-English works often date from the
nineteenth century and earlier, and may not serve the needs of a modern
audience as well as a modern translation. Moreover, they were typically
scanned in by volunteer labor, and may contain numerous typos. If you're
planning on following an actual text, rather than just the sequence of
events in the story, you'd probably be well served by finding a modern
translation as well.
Good General Starting Places
- The Codex Fabliauum. A document collectively created by the Carolingian
Storytellers Guild and Aleksander Yevsha, cross-referencing geographical
regions and time-periods, then listing story sources for each intersection.
- The Internet Medieval Sourcebook. Lots of public domain versions of
texts of all sorts of medieval texts. The sections on Literary Texts and
Saint's Lives are the most obvious places for story material.
- The Online Medieval & Classical Library. Another good site for
medieval texts. Most of their library is good storytelling material
- The Internet Classics Archive. A good collection of classical
literature, including the three big ones, The Iliad, The
Odyssey, and The Aeneid.
- Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts. Not specifically medieval
in focus, but of the lot of the material here is documented as being
from period sources, and much of the rest is sufficiently 'mediaval-oid'
to pass in most circles.
- The Middle English Collection at the Electronic Text Center, UVa. If you
can get past the language barrier, there's some great stuff to be found here.
- Great Books Index. Not specifically medieval in focus, but quite a few
of the entries here are from SCA period.
- Celtica Lore, Myth, and Tradition. A collection of links to Celtic sites,
most of which have good story material.
Some Specific Sources
Many of the following sources and descriptions were taken from Cariadoc's
article on Period Sources for Story Telling, which may be found at
The article is well worth giving a look at in its own right, as it talks about
many good sources that are not available over the Web.
- The Golden Ass by Apuleius. A lengthy and episodic story written in the
second century A.D.
- The Thousand and One Nights. The story of Scheherezade, which provides
the frame story for the Nights, is mentioned by al-Nadim in the 10th century,
but the surviving texts are considerably later, possibly 15th century.
- The Bible. It was extensively used as a source of stories in the Middle Ages.
http://bible.gospelcom.net/ and many others.
- The Koran
- Nasreddin Hoja. Short and funny Arabic tales.
- The Mabinogion. A collection of Welsh stories written down in the 13th
century, apparently based on much earlier verbal traditions.
- Boccaccio, The Decameron. 14th century.
- Chaucer, Canterbury Tales. 14th century.
- Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur. 15th century.
- Njal Saga, Heimskringla, etc. The sagas are histories and historical
novels, mostly written in Iceland in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Heimskringla/, et. al.
- The Song of Roland. The earliest of the French Chansons de Geste, or
"songs of deeds," dating from the late 11th century.
- Orlando Furioso (1516) by Ariosto. This is a Renaissance Italian
reworking of the Matter of France -- the stories of Charlemagne and his
Paladins. The story (and the characters) jump from Paris to London to
Tartary, with or without intermediate stops. The tale is well supplied
with magic rings, enchanted fountains, flying steeds, maidens in distress,
valorous knights, both male and female, and wicked enchanters, also both
male and female.
Note: This version is fairly bowdlerized and not very good poetry. I highly
recommend the Barbara Reynolds translation, available from Penguin Books.
My own Story Pages contain a number of episodes
from these works.
- Ovid's Metamorphoses. An important source of Greek and Roman myths for
- The Ulster Cycle. A collection of many great Celtic stories.
- The Lays of Marie de France. Popular 12th century poems, based on
- Tales from Froissart.
Blatant Plug: Most of the books published by
also contain good story material.
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