How Death Came into the World

From Eve and Pandora, Marzanna and the Morrigan, traditional accounts of how Death came into the world usually put the blame on women. In How Death Came into the World, Nancy Charley offers some startlingly alternative explanations. Exploring those dark forests of myth where every tale is ‘an acorn of truth’, she retells some old stories and conjures up some new ones to make sense of the relationship between painful death and bloody birth. How Death Came into the World is a collection of weird and wise fireside tales about grandmothers, mothers and daughters, the unshawled, the unheard and the undead. It’s a book of burrows and burials, murmurs and murmurations, of lost coins and lost children, the dreams of fish, the ravenous grief of bears and the matted fur beneath the skin.

Author photo: Edward Weech
Cover image: Arthur Rackham, Bird on a Lantern


‘Relish the imaginative myth-making, magic and mystery of these poems, alive with witches and bears, fairies and wolves, attuned to joy and sorrow. Savour the richly delicious language which rolls around the tongue, the sherbety fizz of life and the iron tang of death.’

Maggie Butt

‘These poems are concerned with the lexicon of loss – clear-eyed, unflinching, tough. Nancy Charley is a gifted storyteller, and in her new collection, death is the subject, spun through the perspective of folklore, tall tales and legends. But this book is no dirge – her poems ring with a faultless music that carries us along dark paths, reminding us that death is simply part of the natural order, and that all we can do is to try to live well.’

Tammy Yoseloff

‘an appropriate collection to be reading at a time when death really is on everyone’s lips.’

London Grip