Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Harris, Joel Chandler

(1848-1908) US newspaperman and writer who wrote several novels for adults and the long series of Beast Fables told to a small boy by Uncle Remus. The first, "Negro Folklore. The Story of Mr Rabbit and Mr Fox, as told by Uncle Remus" (1879 the Constitution) was followed immediately by the most famous, "Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and the Tar Baby" (1879 the Constitution), which memorably retells (within the Uncle Remus Frame Story) a Folktale known worldwide, and immortalizes Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. These stories, and 32 others, were assembled as Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings: The Folklore of the Old Plantation (coll 1881; vt Uncle Remus and His Legends of the Old Plantation 1881 UK; vt Uncle Remus, or Mr Fox, Mr Rabbit, and Mr Terrapin 1881 UK; rev under original title 1895). This first volume was followed by Nights with Uncle Remus: Myths and Legends of the Old Plantation (coll 1883), Uncle Remus and His Friends: Old Plantation Stories, Songs and Ballads (coll 1892), Told by Uncle Remus: New Stories of the Old Plantation (coll 1905), Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit (coll 1907), Uncle Remus and the Little Boy (coll 1910), Uncle Remus Returns (coll 1918), The Witch Wolf: An Uncle Remus Story (1921 chap), Stories from Uncle Remus (coll 1934) and Seven Tales of Uncle Remus (coll 1948). These volumes are conveniently assembled as The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus (omni 1955); some of the associated poems appear in The Tar-Baby and Other Rhymes of Uncle Remus (coll 1904). The basic frame was incorporated into the Disney live-action/Animated Movie Song of the South (1946).

Over and above their acuteness, the tales are marked by an acute sensitivity to Black dialects, and by a remarkable lack – compared with the late-19th-century norm – of condescension. [JC]

other works: Daddy Jack the Runaway and Short Stories Told After Dark (coll 1889); Little Mr Thimblefinger and His Queer Country: What the Children Saw and Heard There (1895), the "country" being an underground Wonderland; Wally Walderon and His Story-Telling Machine (1901).

Joel Chandler Harris


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.