Details about Anne Wilson’s publications


1. Traditional Romance and Tale, D.S. Brewer Ltd, Ipswich, UK, 1976, ISBN 0 85991 (Available again on

This first book of the investigation is, of course, entirely out of date, but it does demonstrate how the project began. Above all, it demonstrates my early ideas of move structure, which were the roots of my methodology leading me into my later, much more disciplined work. From this doctoral stage, I took with me the plots I found in King Horn and The Golden Bird, using them as models throughout my research and altering my view of them during the course of it.

2. Magical Thought in Creative Writing: The Distinctive Roles of Fantasy and Imagination in Fiction, The Thimble Press, Woodchester, Stroud, Glos., GL5 5EQ, UK, 1983, ISBN 0-903355-09-4. (Available on

This second book of the project has been read more widely than my other publications, and it brought my work to the attention of people interested in narrative in relation to brain function. Although my work was still widely exploratory, having yet to find direction, I was in the early stages of a pioneering study of structure in unconscious activity. This book also marks my advance into the study of texts where I found two entirely separate and conflicting levels of narration. Another topic in this book is magic, about which I had much to learn. The book is still little known in academia, even though its studies of Jane Eyre and Shakespeare’s Hamlet have remained among my most useful attempts, not needing so much revision as much of my other work.

3. The Magical Quest: The Use of Magic in Arthurian Romance, Manchester University Press, Manchester, UK, 1988, ISBN 0-7190-2373-4 (Out of print, but available in paperback for £7, including postage, upon application to 10 Beacon Mews, Lichfield, Staffs, UK, WS13 7AH).

This third book marks another step forward. During the 1980’s I acquired two new models, the Purification Plot and the Defended Narrative, exemplified in this book by the Apollonius of Tyre texts and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I had also learned how to do more disciplined work with my first models, now called Sovereignty Plots, during my work on the five Lady of the Fountain texts for this book. I needed highly detailed texts like these, and also groups of texts using the same plot, if I was to have enough evidence for my investigation.

4. Plots and Powers: Magical Structures in Medieval Narrative, University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL. 32611-2079, USA, 2001, ISBN 0-8130-2121-9.

At this stage of my research I was able to provide charts for my plots, and, in the Introduction, I could give a much fuller account of my methodology and a fuller discussion of my still enigmatic ritual plots. In studies of medieval and modern texts, the book aims to clarify the difference between texts affected by the presence of a ritual plot and texts unaffected. Groups of texts, such as the Accused Queen, King Lear and Cinderella tales, are included, and there is a study of defended narratives among the Tristan Verse Romances, showing how they differ from similar texts without the rituals. The book also includes a radical revision of my earlier study of the ‘Hamlet’ of Saxo Grammaticus.


‘The Critic and the Use of Magic in Narrative’, in the Yearbook of English Studies, Vol. 22, 1992 (Medieval Narrative Special Number), pages 81-94.

Publishing articles couldn’t be the essential part of my career that it needed to be, because only book-length accounts of my research are sufficient to explain it. The article listed above was a special case, when all the papers given at a particular conference were published. This situation couldn’t alter very easily where an investigation was open ended and becoming increasingly unfamiliar, no longer bearing much relation to ‘family drama’ and still with some way to go before explanations for the presence of ritual plots in some of our texts would be possible. Not being able to see what my work was, referees thought it was based on psychoanalysis and asked for discussion and acknowledgement of publications in that area. Unfortunately, discussing my work in relation to these publications would be quite impossible – despite appearances, there is actually no link between the two areas of inquiry. The use of psychoanalysis is essentially interpretation according to an established theory, while I have had to describe unconscious structures created by an unknown system, and find out how the system worked: decipherment required learning how to read the close relationships between the details, and even then the bizarre results had still to be explained. What eventually emerged was of a different order from the material which has interested psychoanalysis. 

My academic discipline had to include firm loyalty to my project, even when I would lose chances to publish. I had to take the long view, that my work must be done and somehow passed on to others, and hence now this website. My research is necessary because it can resolve problems in texts important to us, and open a door onto unknown narrative activity also important to us. But it is demanding. Ongoing advances in knowledge of the brain could ask us to learn how to work with unknown irrational systems independently, in a practical, exploratory way. I think we will need to have a concept of there being still more in this area for literary people to discover; we have excellent sources of information in our texts. 

My list of book publications shows that I have had the additional disadvantage of having to change my publisher every time I have assembled enough studies to publish a book. There are also big gaps between these publications, because the search for a publisher was nearly always a long one. This conceals the fact that the books are all steps in a single investigation.  

Articles and Review Articles in Signal: Approaches to Children’s Books, TheThimble Press, Woodchester, Stroud, Glos., GL5 5EQ, UK: 

‘Magical Thought in Story’, in Signal, No. 36, September, 1981, pages 138-151. 

‘Morals and Magic for Victorian Children’, in Signal, No. 38, May, 1982, pages 88-102. 

‘The Civilising Process in Fairy Tales’, in  Signal, No. 44, May, 1984, pages 81-87.  

‘Wanted – Tove Jansson’s Cartoon Books!’ in Signal, No. 52, January, 1987, pages 12-23. 

‘What is Magic?’ in Signal, No. 57, September, 1988, pages 170-180. 

‘A Don May Look at a Genius’, in  Signal, No. 84, September, 1997, pages 161-171. 

Article in the Friends’ Quarterly, published by Headley Brothers Ltd, Ashford, Kent UK, for the Proprietors, “THE FRIEND” PUBLICATIONS LIMITED: 

‘Sexism and the Society of Friends: The Issue before Us’, in the Friends’ Quarterly, Vol. 24, No.1, January, 1986, pages 1-8.