La Llorona: Roots, Branches, and a Missing Link from Spain

Stephen Winick (American Folklife Center)

The terrifying Latin American legend of La Llorona, or the Weeping Woman, is known to have both Indigenous and European elements. We’ll discuss some of this rich history. In particular, we’ll address a mystery observed by scholars such as Americo Paredes, Bacil Kirtley, and Stanley Robe: European “White Lady” ghost stories seem to be a source for many details about La Llorona, but scholars found no such stories from Spain. This paper presents a solution, or at least a “missing link”: a tale published in Spain in 1866 about a drowned woman who becomes a weeping ghost called “La Llorona.”

Part of 07-08 Women, Legend, and Ballad in Greater Mexico, Saturday, October 15, 8:00 am–10:00 am