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Staten Island's Fairyland: The Folklore of Cornelius G. Kolff

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  • Anthony and Jessica
    For those interested in fairy stories, folklore, and related topics, this has recently been announced: The Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 23, 2009
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      For those interested in fairy stories, folklore, and related topics, this has recently been announced:

      The Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI) has
      just published the online version of their Spring 2009 newsletter.
      This comprehensive arts and culture newsletter for the Staten Island
      area contains the first of many forthcoming articles, and focus, upon
      the life and works of Cornelius G. Kolff. The feature article briefly
      discusses Kolff, his life and work, which ends with an event
      announcement surrounding his 1939 work "Staten Island Fairies," (follow up to the 1938 "Haven of Wooden Shoes")planned for
      April 26th.

      Read the full newsletter and article here:

      On April 26th 2009 Historic Richmondtown and the Staten Island
      Historical Society, will host COAHSI's event Staten Island's Fairland:
      The Folklore of Cornelius G. Kolff at 3pm. The event will consist of
      individual talks with regard to Kolff's Staten Island Fairies,
      celebrating its 70th year, by Anthony Burdge, Dr. Phil Papas, Dr. Lori
      Wentrob, Frank Williams, and poet Marguerite Maria Rivas. Afterward
      the presenters will discuss their presentations, Kolff and Staten
      Island Fairies during a panel Q&A session.
      (For Directions to Historic Richmondtown)

      The 30 minute talk to be presented by Anthony Burdge will be:

      Staten Island's Lönnrot:
      Remembering Cornelius G. Kolff as historian and folklorist.

      Cornelius G. Kolff loved to be called by his nickname, "Staten
      Island's Most Obedient Servant," and, as history records, he was
      dedicated to living up to the title. As the `Dean of Realtors' Kolff
      was a pioneer in the real estate market, and through the affairs of
      his civic associations he sought to establish Staten Island as part of
      the commercial world stage. A descendent of a long line of merchants,
      traders, politicians, and businessmen, Kolff was educated and
      apprenticed in Europe, and his commercial successes can be linked to
      his familial ties as well as his predecessor and mentor, Erastus
      In Kolff's limited literary and historical publications, as well as
      his scores of unpublished material—books, pamphlets, and articles—he
      would continue to boost the image of Staten Island through his
      prolific writing ventures. However, Kolff's private realization of his
      self-proclaimed dualistic Jekyll and Hyde nature worked to counter the
      model taught him by his mentor Wiman, a model which attacked nature
      with an onslaught of industry. One side of Kolff's person fulfilled
      the necessities of earning a living, and the other sought to replenish
      what his trade took or damaged. The only testament to Kolff's
      environmental concern and naturalist agenda can be seen with his
      recognition as the first Parks Association Person of Merit for his
      ceaseless tree planting and advocacy for the creation of recreational
      parks on Staten Island.
      Despite all this, who is Cornelius Kolff (1860-1950)? The aim of this talk is to
      illustrate how Kolff came to be the figure eulogized as an "Apostle of
      Good Will," in contrast to his lesser known efforts to preserve human
      interest stories. Kolff's folkloric motivations as a writer is
      comparable to the compiler of the Finnish Kalevala, Elias Lönnrot,
      whom he was inspired by. Kolff's establishment of the Philosopher's
      Club and Retreat(1910-1917) on Emerson Hill greatly parallels, and precedes,Tolkien and C.S. Lewis' literary circle The Inklings.

      This talk, highlighted by a photographic slideshow, will establish and defend Kolff as an international folklorist and historian, which will cite examples of his efforts not previously known. To conclude the talk will discuss Kolff's two fairy stories Haven of Wooden Shoes and Staten Island Fairies. These two tales are unique unto themselves and resurrect the Staten Island fairy story tradition.


      It is hoped that you all are able to make it, if you are unable the
      talk will be made available via The Journal of the Northeast Tolkien
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