Sabine Baring-Gould is by no means a celebrity today, but in the 19th century he brought a modern sensibility to an ancient body of superstitions: werewolf lore.
I first came across his name thanks to A Very Special Christmas, of all things. On the 1987 compilation album, among the carols recorded by the then-current crop of rock stars was “Gabriel’s Message,” by Sting. The liner notes credited S. Baring-Gould as the composer.
Born in 1834, the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould was a prolific writer, composer and collector of folklore. Among his scores of published works are a multi-volume Lives of the Saints, hymns including ”Onward, Christian Soldiers,” and The Book of Were-Wolves, a classic survey of werewolf folklore first published in 1865.
For fans of gothic literature, the first chapter alone makes the book worth picking up. As the introduction in the edition I have puts it, Baring-Gould’s account of his stumbling across pervasive belief in werewolves while on holiday in France is worthy of a Victorian novel.