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Blog Post: Who was Wirt Sikes?

May 20, 2017

Who was Wirt Sikes?

Wirt Sikes is best known today for his British Goblins book. His full name was William Wirt Sikes, born on November 23rd 1836 and who died on August 18th 1883. He was an American journalist and writer, perhaps best known today for his writings on Welsh folklore and customs.

British Golbins

British Goblins on Abe Books

William Wirt Sikes was born in Watertown, New York, the son of William Johnson Sikes, a prominent local physician. He was the seventh of eleven children, of whom only six survived to adulthood. Sikes himself was seriously ill as a child and almost lost his hearing, so he was largely educated at home. At fourteen he went to work for a printer and learned how to set type. He supported himself thereafter by typesetting, contributing to local newspapers, and giving temperance lectures.

At the age of nineteen, on August 28, 1855, he married Jeannette Annie Wilcox (1837-1889); they had two children, George Preston Sikes (1856-1957) and Clara Jeanette Sikes (1858-1956).


Sikes goes to Europe

After their marriage the couple went to Europe, where they continued to practice journalism. Sikes produced a biographical and critical piece on the Wiertz Museum for Harper's Magazine in 1873 which was later reprinted by the museum.

In June 1876 Sikes was appointed U.S. Consul at Cardiff, Wales. Over the next few years Sikes produced a number of pieces on Welsh folklore, mythology, and customs, collected as British Goblins; Welsh Folk-Lore, Fairy Mythology, Legends, and Traditions (1880) and Rambles and Studies in Old South Wales (1881). He also wrote Studies of Assassination (1881). He died in Cardiff in 1883 and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery, Brookwood, Surrey.


Works by Wirt Sikes

  • British Goblins; Welsh Folk-Lore, Fairy Mythology, Legends, and Traditions can be found on Project Gutenberg or
  •  One poor girl: the story of thousands on
  • Studies of Assassination on
  • Under a cloud (Short Story) in Stories and sketches by our best authors (1867) on


Source of this Information was Wikipedia