Encyclopedia of Urban Legends
, 2nd Edition
by Jan Harold Brunvand
July 2012, 782pp, 7x10
2 volumes, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-59884-720-8
$190, £141, 159€, A272
eBook Available: 978-1-59884-721-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Urban legends—”true stories” that are passed on through oral tradition, by popular culture, or via the Internet—are the most prevalent and characteristic form of modern folklore. Far from being only a phenomenon exclusive to the western world, urban legends exist in many other cultures—hardly surprising, as everyone enjoys a good story, regardless of whether it’s true or not.

This revised edition of the original reference standard for urban legends provides an updated anthology of common myths and stories, and presents expanded coverage of international legends and tales shared and popularized online.

From roasted babies to vanishing hitchhikers to housewives in football helmets, this exhaustive and highly readable encyclopedia provides descriptions of hundreds of individual legends and their variations, examines legend themes, and explains scholarly approaches to the genre. Revised and expanded to include updated versions of the entries from the award-winning first edition, this work provides additional entries on a wide range of new topics that include terrorism, recent political events, and Hurricane Katrina.

Entries in Encyclopedia of Urban Legends, Updated and Expanded Edition discuss the presence of urban legends in comic books, literature, film, music, and many other areas of popular culture, as well as the existence of “too good to be true” stories in Argentina, China, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and several other countries. Serving as both an anthology of stories as well as a reference work, this encyclopedia will serve as a valuable resource for students and a source book for journalists, professional folklorists, and others who are researching or interested in urban legends.


  • Approximately 300 individual entries for specific urban legends
  • An introduction provides a brief history of urban legend research
  • A selected bibliography and reference citations
Jan Harold Brunvand, PhD, is professor emeritus of English at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT. He is the author of The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings; The Study of American Folklore: An Introduction; and Too Good to Be True. Brunvand holds a doctorate in folklore from Indiana University.


"As well as an interesting examination of the folkloric origins of urban legends, their sources, permutations, and distribution, this encyclopedia is also tremendous fun to browse. Fans of urban legends will enjoy reading up on the classic stories as well as gaining some insight into legends from other countries and cultures. . . . This volume would be a good addition for humanities collections, but also a good individual purchase for personal use."—Reference Reviews, October 25, 2013

"This highly readable resource by Brunvand features variations from across the world on common themes such as animal infestations, crimes, academic legends, and celebrity rumors. . . . This will be a useful volume for public and school libraries and undergraduate academic collections. Summing up: recommended."—Choice, January 1, 2013

"This outstanding reference title represents Brunvand’s professional commitment to the preservation and study of urban legends. . . . This comprehensive resource, which contains urban legends found in the United States, as well as numerous foreign ones, should be in the reference collection of all libraries."—ARBA, January 1, 2013

"The first edition of The Encyclopedia of Urban Legends was a good general resource for legend study, and the revised one is even better. The number and extent of the emendations certainly merits the new edition."—Journal of Folklore Research, September 1, 2013

"This book is more than just a collection of urban legends—it also includes important folkloric concepts and topics. . . . Accessible enough for the casual reader yet scholarly enough for academic researchers, The Encyclopedia of Urban Legends is an invaluable and fascinating book that merits a place on the shelf of any skeptic and student of folklore."—Skeptical Inquirer, November 1, 2012

"Brunvand’s work, which is considered a standard on the topic, is recommended for public, school, and academic libraries, especially those lacking the earlier edition."—Library Journal, October 1, 2012

"The cross-referencing in the work is excellent. . . . This is an excellent beginning resource for students interested in the subject."—Booklist, October 15, 2012
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