Nutt, Alfred Trübner (DNB12)

NUTT, ALFRED TRÜBNER (1856–1910), publisher, folklorist, and Celtic scholar, born in London on 22 Nov. 1856, was eldest and only surviving son of David Nutt (d. 1863), a foreign bookseller and publisher, by his wife Ellen, daughter of Robert Carter and grand-daughter of Wilham Miller, publisher, of Albemarle Street, predecessor of John Murray II. His second name commemorated his father's partnership with Nicholas Trübner [q. v.]. He was educated first at University College School and afterwards at the College at Vitry le François in the Marne. Having served three years' business apprenticeship in Leipzig, Berlin, and Paris, he in 1878 took his place as head of his father's firm, which, founded in 1829 at 58 Fleet Street, was moved in 1848 to 270-271 Strand. The business, which had been mainly confined to foreign bookselling, soon benefited by young Nutt's energy and enterprise, especially in the publishing department, which he mainly devoted to folklore and antiquities. Among his chief publications were the collection of unedited Scottish Gaelic texts known as 'Waifs and Strays of Celtic Tradition,' the 'Northern Library' of old Norse texts, the 'Tudor Library' of rare sixteenth-century works, the Tudor translations (in sixteenth-century prose), the 'Grimm Library,' the 'Bibliotheque de Carabas,' a critical edition of 'Don Quixote' in Spanish, 'Nutt's Juvenile Library,' the works of W. E. Henley, and the collection of English, Celtic, and Indian fairy tales. He also produced a number of excellent school books. The business was carried on at 57-59 Long Acre, 'At the sign of the Phoenix,' from 1890 to 1912, when it was removed to Grape St., New Oxford St.

Besides possessing much business capacity Nutt was a lifelong student of folklore and of the Celtic languages, and showed scholarship and power of original research in a number of valuable contributions which he made to both studies. His name will be 'definitely associated with the plea for the msular, Celtic, and popular provenance of the Arthurian cycle' (Folk-lore, 1910, p. 513). He founded the 'Folk-lore Journal' (afterwards 'Folk-lore'), was one of the earliest members of the Folk-lore Society (1879), and was elected president in 1897 and 1898. Besides presidential addresses he contributed many valuable articles to the society's journal, the 'Folk-lore Record,' and in 1892 he edited a volume of 'Transactions' of the International Folk-lore Congress (1891). In 1886 he helped to establish the English Goethe Society. He was one of the founders of the movement which led in 1898 to the formation of the Irish Texts Society. His most important literary productions were: 'Studies on the Legend of the Holy Grail with Special Reference to the Hypothesis of its Celtic Origin' (1888, Folk-lore Soc. vol. 23), and two essays on The Irish Vision of the Happy Otherworld and The Celtic Doctrine of Rebirth, appended to 'The Voyage of Bran, son of Febal, to the Land of the Living, an Old Irish Saga now first edited with Translation by Kuno Meyer' (Grimm Library, vols. 4 and 6, 1895–7).

On 21 May 1910, while on a holiday at Melun on the Seine, he was out driving with an invalid son, who fell into the river; Nutt bravely plunged to the rescue but was unfortunately drowned. His wife, Mrs. M. L. Nutt, who had been his secretary for several years, succeeded him as head of the firm. Two sons survived him.

Nutt also wrote:

  1. 'The Aryan Expulsion and Return Formula in the Folk and Hero Tales of the Celts' (Folk-lore Record, vol. iv. 1881).
  2. 'Mabinogion Studies, I. The Mabinogi of Branwen, Daughter of Llyr' (ib. vol. v. 1882).
  3. 'Celtic and Mediæval Romance,' 1899 (Popular Studies, no. 1).
  4. 'Ossian and Ossianic Literature,' 1899 (ib. no. 3).
  5. 'The Fairy Mythology of Shakespeare,' 1900 (ib. no. 6).
  6. 'Cuchulainn, the Irish Achilles,' 1900 (ib. no. 8).
  7. 'The Legends of the Holy Grail,' 1902 (ib. no. 14).

He added notes to Douglas Hyde's 'Beside the Fire, a Collection of Irish Gaelic Folk Stories' (1890); introductions and notes to several volumes of Lord A. Campbell's 'Waifs and Strays of Celtic Tradition'; a preface to Jeremiah Curtin's 'Tales of the Fairies and of the Ghost World'; a chapter on Folk-lore to 'Field and Folk-lore,' by H. Lowerison (1899); introduction, notes, and appendix to Matthew Arnold's 'Study of Celtic Literature' (1910), and notes to Lady Charlotte Guest's 'Mabinogion' (1902; revised and enlarged 1904).

[Obituary notice by E. Clodd in Folk-lore, 30 Sept. 1910, pp. 335-7 (with lithograph portrait) and pp. 512-14; The Tunes, 24 May 1910; Athenæum, and Publishers' Circular, 28 May 1910; Bookseller, 27 May 1910; Who's Who, 1910.]

H. R. T.