About the Author
Charles Godfrey Leland (August 15, 1824 – March 20, 1903) was an American humorist and folklorist, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was educated at Princeton University and in Europe. Leland worked in journalism, travelled extensively, and became interested in folklore and folk linguistics, publishing books and articles on American and European languages and folk traditions. By the end of his life shortly after the turn of the century, Leland had worked in a wide variety of trades, achieved recognition as the author of the comic Hans Breitmann’s Ballads, fought in two conflicts, and had written what was to become a primary source text for Neopaganism half a century later, Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches. Leland travelled widely, eventually settling in London. In his travels, he made a study of the Gypsies, on whom he wrote more than one book. Leland began to publish a number of books on ethnography, folklore and language. His fame during his lifetime rested chiefly on his comic Hans Breitmann’s Ballads (1871), written in a combination of broken English and German (not to be confused, as it often has been, with Pennsylvania German). His writings on Algonquian and gypsy culture were part of the contemporary interest in pagan and Aryan traditions. He erroneously claimed to have discovered 'the fifth Celtic tongue': the form of Cant, spoken among Irish Travellers. He named it Shelta. Leland became president of the English Gypsy-Lore Society in 1888. Eleven years later Godfrey produced Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches.