Art Of Jenny Greenteeth

In recent days, I’ve been seeing the name Jenny Greenteeth pop up in comments on my favourite place on the Internet – the Folk Horror Revival group on Facebook. Why I haven’t taken the time to look into Jenny before I don’t know. The other day, I thought to myself: ‘Eh, she won’t be that terrifying…but I might as well have a look see and read into her a bit.’

How gloriously surprised I was to find that she’s horrific!

With her matted hair, obscenely long-limbs, wicked gaze and pointed teeth, Jenny Greenteeth makes me uneasy. (Hurrah!) The art I’ve found made in honour of her is (mostly) bone-chilling stuff that won’t be easily forgotten.

The threat of Jenny Greenteeth – ‘Watch out! Jenny will get you!’ – has long been used in the North-West of England. Duckweed, one of Britain’s most common water plants, can create what looks like a smooth, green mat over still bodies of water…and all too often children have tried to walk on it. To keep them of harms ways, generations of parents have told young’uns that duckweed is a sign of the presence of Jenny Greenteeth. That she waits just below the surface of the water, ready to grab the ankle of any child who gets that bit too close to the water’s edge.

While Jenny Greenteeth is the name you’ll hear most commonly used, she’s also known as Jinny Greenteeth, Peg Powler, Ginny Greenteeth, Jeannie Greenteeth, Wicked Jenny, Screeching Ginny, Jenny Wi’ the Airn Teeth, Ginny Burntarse, and Nelly Longarms.

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94- Jenny Greenteeth, Peg Powler, and Nelly Longarms. These three distinct figures come from English folklore. They most closely resemble the grindylow, a green water demon/faerie that lives at the edges of lakes, rivers, and bogs. They are used as bogeyman type figures to scare children away from dangerous bodies of water, in much the same way as stories of forest dwelling witches were used to keep children out of the woods. Jenny Greenteeth is described as a river hag, having green skin, sharp teeth, and long seaweed-like hair. Peg Powler resides in the English river Tees, and similarly to Jenny, has green teeth and an appetite for children. Nelly Longarms lives at the bottoms of wells, rivers, and ponds and has, as her name suggests, long sinewy arms. The stories all share similar features. A child wanders too close to the edge of a stream or river. Up from the bottom of the muck, she slowly rises to the surface. Covered in duckweed and river grass, she swims to the banks. Reaching up through the water with her elongated arms, she grabs the child’s ankles and dives back to her depths to consume her prize. Each figure is described as lurking just beneath the surface of the water, waiting to capture children who stray close enough. Whether or not these figures are witches, faeries, or nymphs can be up for debate. My instinct is to say that they would be considered a kind of water faery, but they still fit into a particular archetype of witch (being described as hags, having green skin, and an appetite for children). So the next time your child is wandering too close to the waters edge, tell them Jenny Greenteeth will get ‘em! That’ll help them sleep at night.

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Brizzolatto55
Artist : Brizzolatto55

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