Joseph Jacobs was a Jewish historian and leading folklorist whose special passion was fairy tales. He was born in Australia and attended the University of Sydney where he won a scholarship for classics, mathematics and chemistry. He completed his studies at St John's College, Cambridge. He became secretary of the Society of Hebrew Literature from 1878 to 1884, and in 1882 came to prominence as the writer of a series of articles in The Times on the persecution of Jews in Russia. This led to the formation of the Mansion House Fund and Committee, of which Jacobs was secretary from 1882 to 1900. During these years he gave much time to anthropological studies in connection with the Jewish race, and became an authority on this subject. But his interests were varied. From 1899-1900 he edited the journal Folklore, and from 1890 to 1912 he edited five collections of fairy tales: English Fairy Tales, More English Fairy Tales, Celtic Fairy Tales, More Celtic Fairy Tales, and European Folk and Fairy Tales, in 1906 he moved to New York and became registrar and professor of English at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He died in January 1916.