Sidmouth storyteller and author Janet Dowling will launch her third book at Kennaway House on Monday, October 9, as part of the Sidmouth Science Festival.

Folk Tales of the Cosmos tells the ancient stories that have been created about the constellations of stars in the sky - tales that have been handed down through the generations.

Sidmouth Herald: Janet Dowling's new book

Janet said: “I’ve always been fascinated by the stars and was very pleased to discover the Norman Lockyer Observatory was literally on my doorstep when I moved to Sidmouth.  As a storyteller I knew some stories of the star shapes, but it wasn’t until I started looking closer that I realised that 48 of the defined constellations were characters from the Greek myths. Fifteen make up the myth of Perseus, and people may remember my performance of 'Lust and Revenge: Passion in the Night Sky' which I did at both Sidmouth Folk Week and the Sidmouth Science Festival, and successfully took to other storytelling clubs across England.

“However, I realised that for the same stars other cultures had different stories - so I started searching them out.  I discovered that even the Northern Lights had myths and stories about them long before Philip Pullman.  This book contains both the Greek myths and the stories told about the same star shapes, but by different cultures. I was fortunate to have the support of Sidmouth Library, the Sidmouth Science Festival, and the Norman Lockyer Observatory to find the audiences to refine my telling of the tales before committing them to paper. Sidmouth listeners have had a great part to play in the crafting of this book and I thank them!

“I emphasise that this book is not for children - the myths contain adult themes which are difficult to tame down if you are also inviting the book reader to compare the stories across cultures. Of course, when I tell to youngsters they do get the tamer version! I’m telling a version of 'Whose Constellation is it Anyway?' to Sidmouth College students during Science Festival week as well as running a 'Make up your Own Constellation' workshop at the NLO Funday on Sunday, October 15. An opportunity to create your own story for the stars!”

Folk Tales of the Cosmos is published by History Press on October 5. The launch is at Kennaway House at 2pm on Monday, October 9. Janet will also host a free online book launch on Tuesday, October 17, details can be found at

Janet’s previous book, “Devon Ghost Tales” won the “Storytelling World Award for Best Anthology Resource  in 2020”.