I am an anthropologist and multi-award writer (fiction, nonfiction, screen), is Emeritus Professor, the Open University, holder of the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Rivers Memorial Medal, Fellow of the British Academy, International Fellow of the American Folklore Society, and Honorary Fellow of Somerville College Oxford. My publications (several of them prize-winning) mainly focus on literary issues, communication (including paranormal) and musical practices. Among many others they  include  Oral Literature in Africa, Oral Poetry, The Hidden Musicians, Communicating, Why do we quote? and a novel, Black inked pearl.  My most recent projects are as joint editor of Hearing Others’ Voices, a new, anthropological inspired, transcultural and transdisciplinary series for young adults (https://www.balestier.com/category/hearing-others-voices/, and intensive preproduction work on a screenplay to planned to be filmed in  2020.

On a more personal note, I  was  born (Newtear’s Eve 1933) and brought up in Derry, Northern Ireland, supplemented by several magical years in Donegal, and educated at the little Ballymore First School in County Donegal; Londonderry High School; The Mount (Quaker) School York (at the same time as (among others) Judi Dench, A S Byatt, Margaret Drabble and, a little later, Jocelyn Bell Burnell who went on to discover pulsars  – what a school!); and, with top degrees, the University  of Oxford (Classics (Literae humaniores) and a doctorate in Anthropology). Then came fieldwork (the Limba, northern Sierra Leone) and university teaching in Africa and as a founder member of staff at the pioneering Open University, where I spent the rest of my working  career apart from 3 years (and more fieldwork) at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.

I have three daughters and five grandchildren and live with my husband David  in Old Bletchley, southern England, where I run a small publishing business, Callender Press  www.callenderpress.co.uk, founded to publish my parents’ writing, and in great happiness continue my research and writing, including my dream-led ventures into novels  and filmscripts – unexpected but somehow informed by my anthropology.


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Ruth Finnegan’s Pictures Gallery



I love reading – everything really but I do have my favourites, like


I love getting people to tell their stories 

‘I love finding and sharing a new stories from the past www.callenderpress.co.uk/

what a privilege, everyone has one even me www.ruthhfinnegan.com and certainly you. What else I love are:



I love too the intertwining of life and dreams and eternity

I truly love the butterfly’s sayng “My life is short, but it is long enough”