Greenteeth was a water fairy associated with the Lancashire, Liverpool and
Wirral areas. She and her sisters ‘lurked at the bottom of pits, and with their
long sinewy arms dragged in and drowned children venturing too near’. There has
been, since the nineteenth century, an attempt to rationalize Jenny. She was a
form of social control: parents evoked her to keep their children away from
dangerous ponds, streams, rivers and later canals (Jenny moved with the times).
And certainly we have accounts that tend in this direction: ‘Jenny’ll get you!’
One little boy was brought into the garden and told that the moaning of the
wind in the trees was Jenny’s voice: another was shown some enamelled teeth
that had been stained green! But Jenny was also a proud boggart with her own
agenda and there are parts of the legend that do not serve to save lives. For
example, the idea that duck weed was particularly associated with her or even
that it was her hair. It should also be noted that even if there was only one
Jenny Greenteeth she apparently dwelt in tens of different bodies of water
Jenny was overwhelmingly a Lancashire bogie, but there are some references from
further afield that might suggest she once had a wider kingdom. In 1870 weed in
Birmingham was sometimes called ‘Jenny’ or ‘Jenny Greenteeth’, the wording is
ambiguous. There is also an East Riding legend abouta drowned girl called Jenny that sounds as if
it may be Jenny Greenteeth or a close cousin.
Description:Duckweed, Pondweed, slime
and algae are all associated with Jenny and her teeth were clearly forty shades
of green. There is the reference above to long sinewy arms and you did not want
to see her teeth. Brian Froud has a particularly effective image of Jenny in Froud,
Brian and Lee, Alan ‘Faeries’ (New York, Abrams 2009).See the head of the post.
Attestation and Etymology: Nineteenth century? Jenny is a common fairy name
Greenteeth Locations: Coming to a pool or water pit near you!
Duckweed, Lemna minor, is one of the world’s
smallest flowering plants, but it can form dense mats on still water, and less
frequently on permanently damp mud and rock faces. It is common throughout the
British Isles, apart from northern Scotland.
In northwest England the presence of duckweed indicated that the bogey
Jenny, or Jinny, Greenteeth lurked below the water’s surface.Duckweed is a small floating annual with no stems or apparent leaves but
a rounded thallus, 1.5 to 4mm across, floating on the surface of still fresh
water in large quantities.
It mainly appears from May to September though this photo was taken in October.
child about 50 years ago in the Liverpool area, I was frightened by Jenny
Greenteeth, a sort of fairy, who would drag people down into deep pools. Jenny
was particularly associated with pools covered with duckweed. Although Jenny
Greenteeth was usually unseen, in about 1920 the bogey which inhabited two
pools beside Moss Pitts Lane in Fazakerley, ‘had pale green skin, green teeth,
very long green locks of hair, long green fingers with long nails, and she was
very thin with pointed chin and very big eyes’.”
Briggs, in her Dictionary of Fairies, classified Jenny as a Nursery Bogey, one
of ‘a group of spirits that seem as if they had never been feared by grown-up
people but had been invented expressly to warn children off dangerous ground or
from undesirable activities’.
Ronecker's ‘Encyclopédie Illustrée des Esprits de la Nature’ we learn
Dents Vertes is a female Spirit from the race of Noyeurs (Drowners), lurking in
the waters of the rivers of Yorkshire.
She manifests herself as a most disgusting. skeletal creature with very
long arms, bony hands, crooked fingers, pale skin, bulging eyes, long greenish
teeth, and a long green vase full of hair.
She attracts children into the water to drown them. " Duckweed is not found in rivers so perhaps
the Yorkshire Jenny was algae-based.
moral of all these stories is ‘Don’t try walking on duckweed!’
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I'm a blogger - and nowadays that seems to be my main occupation. Rambles from My Chair is my main blog. I’m a retired local government executive - now studying how to survive a neurological disorder that gives me various problems but, hopefully, a whole new outlook on life and an increased sense of humour and perspective. There is a saying in Sweden "man måste vara frisk för att orka vara sjuk" ~ "you have to be well to cope with being ill"....
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