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1001 Stories Collection

The Hunchback and the Swan

1001 hunchbackandswan
Added on 12th August 2020

Oral tradition Scottish Traveller folktale

The haunting story of a mute hunchback and a mute swan.

Story

An old mute hunchback is shunned by the village but loved by the birds and animals of the forest. All but one. The mute swan who swims round and round the lake never comes for the bread he puts out for her. The man pines for the swan and one day he takes to his bed. The birds and animals worry for him. They go to the swan and ask her to help.

Why we chose it

A haunting story about friendship and belonging.

Where it came from

The Hunchback and the Swan is an old Scottish traveller story told orally for many generations in the traveller community.

Where it went next

The story is included in Fireside Tales of the Traveller Children by Scottish traveller storyteller Duncan Williamson. Williamson kept alive the oral story traditions, telling the stories, singing the songs, recording and collecting both songs and stories.

Taffy Thomas, former storytelling laureate, tells the story in a number of his books and in a 2017 animation directed by Dotty Kultys.

Associated stories

Other stories included in Fireside Tales of the Traveller Children are Mary and the Seal, Death and the Woodcutter, The Traveller Woman who Looked Back and The Goat that Told Lies.

Added on 12th August 2020

Oral tradition Scottish Traveller folktale