“A Lying Tale: Fact and Fiction in the Stories of Borrow’s Gypsies” by Anne-Marie Ford

 

 ‘We know very little about ourselves; and you know nothing, save what we have told you; and we have now and then told you things about us which are not exactly true, simply to make a fool of you, brother. You will say that was wrong; perhaps it was. Well, Sunday will be here in a day or two, when we will go to church, where possibly we shall hear a sermon on the disastrous consequences of lying.’ Jasper Petulengro’s parting words to the narrator of The Romany Rye (1857), full of humour, truth and irony, reflect not only the Gypsy’s pleasure in a joke, but also the limits of contemporaneous knowledge regarding these wandering people.

For a fine essay by Anne-Marie Ford about the creative licence that members of the Borrow’s Gypsies group sometimes took in talking about themselves to George Borrow and to the Gypsiologists of the late 19th and early 20th century, follow this link to the Gypsy Genealogy website.

 

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