A dog

Episode 46: The Hobyahs

“The Hobyahs are coming!”

This episode we have a fairy tale like story that’s meant for children… and may be the most traumatic and violent I’ve covered yet.

Meet the family: an old woman, an old man and a little girl living in a remote valley with their dog Turpie. Awww!

Meet the Hobyahs – numerous terrible monsters that live all around the valley. Less awww.

A story (possibly) originating from Scotland, going via America, back to England and out to Australia – a truly international tale of terror.

Shudder in horror, recoil in fear, become really quite alarmed at the unexpected direction this story takes.

For children, probably not for adults.

Spoilerific trigger warning

Warning: More spoilers lie below! Scroll at your peril.

Illustrations from Joseph Jacobs’ “English Fairy Tales”

As per the discussion section this story was included in Joseph Jacobs “More English Fairy Tales”, which are neither (all) English, nor (all) Fairy Tales.

These were illustrated by Devon born painter John D. Batten and it’s fair to say that his drawingsare some of the best known public domain images of many of these stories – you’ll have seen that on the website and on my social media feeds I make liberal use of them!

Here’s a small gallery of some of my favourites, in no particular order, including stories which may very well appear in a later podcast episode

The Hobyahs in Pictures

Batten’s cartoonish lizard like Hobyah’s are the most common portrayal of them, however as the story leaves them undescribed you are free to imagine something completely different – as the Victorian [here meaning “of the state of Victoria”] Reader version does – providing an alternative view of the Hobyahs.

Quite a few other versions are knocking around ithat aren’t in public domain.

Personally I imagine them a bit like talking velociraptor like creatures, which I purposefully didn’t say in the podcast to let you form your own image of them!

John D. Batten‘s version:

The Australian Reader version:

The Australian version and more details

This excellent blog page: Storytelling Research Lois – The Hobyahs has the full Australian version of the tale and lots of the detail I included in the discussion section about the history of the tale, as well as links to other tellings of the tale.

If you’re interested in delving deep into this one then I couldn’t suggest better than this: well worth checking it out.

Selected Sources

Intro music from the incredibly talented Alice Nicholls Music
Outro music and other various by Josh Keely and Mitch Newman

Other music, used under various Creative Commons and public Domain licenses:

Damiano Baldoni
Bewitched Hell
The one who spread the sadness

The Hag’s Spree

Doug Maxwell
Dramatic Swarm

Brian Bolger
Black Mass

Lionel Schmitt
The Killer from Asylum
Hide and Seek
Tales from Asylum


Daniel Birch
Roaming the streets at night

Sound Effects
Silver Illusionist

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Welcome to Tales of Britain and Ireland!

Welcome to Tales of Britain & Ireland: A podcast telling folktales, myths and legends from across Britain and Ireland. Hosted by Graeme Cooke.

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