A to Z Challenge Folklore

Boggart #folklore #AtoZChallenge

N is for Naughty

Learn more about the challenge here.

I’m doing folklore and book review posts to reach and please a larger audience. Previous years have shown select interest in both and to minimise blogging throughout the year, I’m focusing my efforts on April.

If you’d rather check out my book review for today, go here.

Learn more about the A to Z Challenge here.

I think I first encountered a boggart in the Harry Potter books, but they are more than they appear.

Boggart. Image credit.


THE FAIRY MYTHOLOGY by Thomas Keightley [1892]

The Boggart.

In the house of an honest farmer in Yorkshire, named George Gilbertson, a Boggart had taken up his abode. He here caused a good deal of annoyance, especially by tormenting the children in various ways. Sometimes their bread and butter would be snatched away, or their porringers of bread and milk be capsized by an invisible hand; for the Boggart never let himself be seen; at other times, the curtains of their beds would be shaken backwards and forwards, or a heavy weight would press on and nearly suffocate them. The parents had often, on hearing their cries, to fly to their aid. There was a kind of closet, formed by a wooden partition on the kitchen-stairs, and a large knot having been driven out of one of the deal-boards of which it was made, there remained a hole.[352] Into this one day the farmer’s youngest boy stuck the shoe-horn with which he was amusing himself, when immediately it was thrown out again, and struck the boy on the head. The agent was of course the Boggart, and it soon became their sport (which they called laking[353] with Boggart) to put the shoe-horn into the hole and have it shot back at them.

The Boggart at length proved such a torment that the farmer and his wife resolved to quit the house and let him have it all to himself. This was put into execution, and the farmer and his family were following the last loads of furniture, when a neighbour named John Marshall came up—”Well, Georgey,” said he, “and soa you’re leaving t’ould hoose at last?”—”Heigh, Johnny, my lad, I’m forced tull it; for that damned Boggart torments us soa, we can[Pg 308] neither rest neet nor day for’t. It seems loike to have such a malice again t’poor bairns, it ommost kills my poor dame here at thoughts on’t, and soa, ye see, we’re forced to flitt loike.” He scarce had uttered the words when a voice from a deep upright churn cried out, “Aye, aye, Georgey, we’re flitting ye see.”—”Od damn thee,” cried the poor farmer, “if I’d known thou’d been there, I wadn’t ha’ stirred a peg. Nay, nay, it’s no use, Mally,” turning to his wife, “we may as weel turn back again to t’ould hoose as be tormented in another that’s not so convenient.”[354]

Boggart. Image credit.

Lancashire Folk-lore by John Harland and Thomas Turner Wilkinson [1867]

There is scarcely an old house, or hall, of any antiquity in Lancashire, that cannot boast of that proud distinction over the houses of yesterday, a ghost or boggart. Radcliffe Tower was haunted by a black dog; perhaps in commemoration of the Fair Ellen of Radcliffe, who, by order of her stepmother, was murdered by the master cook, and cut up small, and of her flesh a venison pasty made for her father’s dinner!

There are the Boggart of Clegg Hall, near Rochdale; the Clayton Hall Boggart, Droylsden; the Clock House Boggart, in the same neighbourhood; the Thackergate Boggart, near Alderdale; and many others: indeed they are too numerous for us to attempt a full enumeration. Mr. Higson observes[43] that few sombre or out-of-the-way places, retired nooks and corners, or sequestered by-paths, escaped the reputation of being haunted. Many domiciles had their presiding boggart, and feeorin’ [fairies] swarmed at every turn of the dark old lanes, and arch-boggarts held revel at every “three-road-end.”

Boggart. Image credit: glass & creature

Element Encyclopedia of Fairies by Lucy Cooper


There are many local tales of this mischievous, sometimes malevolent, brownie, either in the guise of a household spirit who steals the food from the table and torments the family or as a tricksy field-dweller.

*More can be read in the book.

Boggart. Image credit.

The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John & Caitlín Matthews


Boggarts, who occur all over Britain, are mischievous brownies who misplace and upset things. They follow their chosen victims around and make life as difficult as possible – which is perhaps why on certain days, nothing seems to go right. They are very difficult to get rid of.

*More can be read in the book.

Boggart. Image credit: milk & creature

Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology by Theresa Bane


Originating in Celtic lore a bogart is an injurious species of fairy, it adopts a family and causes havoc in their life, acting exactly like a poltergeist, eating the wool, tossing about the items in the kitchen and ruining the butter. Some fairy lore says a boggart is created when a brownie or hobgoblin becomes insulted, transforming into an ugly, haired cover being with sharp and nasty teeth.

*More can be read in the book.

Boggart. Image credit: destruction & creature

Further Reading:

Boggart. Image credit: couch & creature

Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel

Boggarts can be found inside and outside the home. In some cases, “boggart” is a catch-all phrase for anything from a hobgoblin to a sprite. Though it is acknowledged that boggarts are the unseen creature that causes havoc in and around the home – from scared cows to spilt milk. They are, usually, the cause for things that go bump in the night.

Boggarts are seen as malicious figures, out to torment a family by breaking things, pulling ears, making babies cry, and even stripping the blankets from a sleeping person.

Iron and salt are sure ways to keep a boggart at bay.

There is no one description of the boggart. In some accounts, it is a hairy, ugly humanoid being while in others it takes the form of animals. It prefers to stay invisible to humans, enjoying the extra fear they experience by not knowing what to look for.

Much like brownies are tied to a specific house or family, boggarts can attach themselves, too. Though they aren’t the helpful sort. Some lore says that boggarts are created when brownies are mistreated.

Whether inside or out, if you have a boggart problem, it’s probably best to grab the nearest iron weapon and bag of salt to protect yourself.

Boggart. Image credit: couch & creature

Boggart in Modern Culture

The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi (My Review)

Next to it was a hunched figure, also small, but this one held a piece of broken glass.

“What’s with that?” Simon pointed to the second figure, intrigued despite himself.

“This Arthur guy says it’s a boggart. See, brownies are these helpful guys, but then if you make them mad, they go crazy. They start doing all these bad things and you can’t stop them. Then they become boggarts. That’s what I think we have.”

The Field Guide by Holly Black

Harry Potter book series by JK Rowling

Boggart shifting appearance. Image credit.

Boggart was an amortal shape-shifting non-being that took on the form of its observer’s worst fear. Because of their shape-shifting ability, no one knew what a Boggart looked like when it was alone, as it changed shape instantly upon encountering someone.[1][2]

When facing a Boggart, it was best to have someone else along, to try to confuse it, since facing more than one person at once made it indecisive towards determining what form it should take, usually resulting in a not frightening combination of the victims’ fears.[1][2]

Learn more here.

(Realms of Fae and Shadow Anthology) Fae Bargains by Clarissa Gosling (My Review)

THE MAN QUAVERED as he stood there unable to move.  Evan stifled a giggle. Humans were so predictable and great entertainment. Just ahead a boggart sat on a tree stump, almost merging with it. His long arms waved as he enchanted the man there. This was his favorite trick, and Evan often watched the boggart toy with the humans he had lured into the faery realm…

The boggart’s dark eyes glinted under its squashed felt hat as it smiled, showing off its crooked teeth. “Good one. Me like.” Evan bowed back to the boggart, his courtly acknowledgment always at odds with the scruffy creature he seemed to serve.

Fae Bargains by Clarissa Gosling

Boggart in My Writing

Origin of the Fae: Boggart

It is, usually, the dark side of a brownie that had been angered. Though there are boggarts that don’t have the good side as a brownie, just the malicious side that wishes to torment the family it is tied to. Boggarts are excellent shape-shifters, turning into whatever will frighten their prey the most. They feed on fear. Their natural form is that of a small humanoid creature with long fingers, big eyes, and sharp ears. They are usually dark brown to easily blend into the shadows. They thrive on destruction. Like most fae, iron and salt will keep them away.

Boggart translated to Afrikaans: Skrikbeeld.

See this fae in action in my writing:

Dark Fae (Origin of the Fae #7)

Remember that you can request all of my books from your local library!

Where did you first encounter the boggart? What do you think of this shape-shifting faery? Check out my Pinterest board dedicated to the subject.

You can now support my time in producing folklore posts (researching, writing and everything else involved) by buying me a coffee. This can be a once-off thing, or you can buy me coffee again in the future at your discretion.

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image credit https://pixabay.com/illustrations/ai-generated-fairy-wings-magic-8121013/

No-one writes about the fae like Ronel Janse van Vuuren.

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