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Goblins are mischievous malicious fairies that live in small caves and underground caverns. Sometimes goblins attach themselves to houses or families - they can be heard at night, banging pots and pans, dragging furniture around, rapping at doors and windows, or even snatching the bedclothes off sleeping people.

Sometimes goblins help parents in disciplining their children - they give presents to children who have been good, and punish and play wicked tricks on those who have been naughty.

Goblin Books to read

The Princess and the Goblin

Written by George Macdonald in 1871, this is one of the best-written fantasy tales for children. Curdie, the miner's lad, helps to rescue Princess Irene and the royal household from goblins.

George Macdonald probably based his goblins on the Dark Elves of the Icelandic Eddas. The goblins in his book live in caves beneath the earth, and mine for precious gold and silver. The goblins are also very ugly. They have no toes on their feet, and look down on toe-possessing humans. The goblins' feet are the most sensitive part of their bodies, while their heads are hard as stone.

The Hobbit or There and Back Again (1937)
The Lord of the Rings (1954-55)

Written by J.R.R. Tolkien, these books are outstanding works of fantasy for children and adults alike. Tolkien based the goblins in The Hobbit on George Macdonald's portrayal of the creatures in The Princess and the Goblin. He coined the word 'Orcs' for such creatures in The Lord of the Rings.

Goblin Market and other poems (1862)

The book takes its title from a poem by Christina Rossetti.The poem tells the story of two sisters, Laura and Lizzie who hear the cry of goblins selling fruit. Laura buys the fruit and eats it, but only longs for more, and almost dies with the longing. Lizzie finally manages to cure Laura. Though the book was not originally written for children, many have read it and enjoyed it.

The Hamish Hamilton Book of Goblins (1969), edited by Alan Garner

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Last updated: April 2010. Copyright © Rohini Chowdhury 2002. All rights reserved.

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