The Forum

Mermaids: Tales from the deep

We delve into the watery depths of sea creature folklore, with a round-the-world tour of different variations on the concept of mermaids – from the Sirens of Greek mythology to the Selkies or Seal Folk of Scottish legend, and water spirits known as Mami Water, which are venerated in parts of Africa and the Americas. Not forgetting the famous fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, which has captivated the imagination ever since its publication in 1837 and was popularised by Disney in the 1980s.

Joining Bridget Kendall to discuss what these ancient stories can tell us are Cristina Bacchilega of the University of Hawaii, co-editor of The Penguin Book of Mermaids; British writer, Marcelle Mateki Akita, who has written a book for children called Fatama and Mami Wata's Secret; and Lynn Barbour, founder and Arts Director of the Orkney Folklore and Storytelling Centre in the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

Produced by Jo Impey for the BBC World Service.

[Image: Detail from Fisherman and Mermaids in the Blue Grotto on Capri by Hermann Corrodi (1844-1905). Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images]

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