Nutt, Alfred Trübner (1856–1910), folklorist, Celtic scholar, and publisher, was born 22 November 1856 in London, the only surviving son of David Nutt (d. 1863), bookseller and publisher, and his wife Ellen, daughter of Robert Carter, naval surgeon, and granddaughter of William Miller, the noted publisher of Albermarle St., London. Nutt was educated at the University College School, London, and the Collège de Vitray-le-François, Marne, France. He held business apprenticeships in Leipzig, Berlin, and Paris before returning (1878) to London, where he took control of the family firm, located then on the Strand and from 1890 at 57–9 Long Acre. Under his astute management, the firm successfully diversified into publishing school textbooks, childrens’ books, and – reflecting Nutt's own interests – antiquarian and folklore studies.
Nutt's profession complemented his enduring passion for Celtic languages and folklore, and he became a recognised authority on Scottish and Irish myths. He was particularly preoccupied with the Arthurian myth cycle, which, he maintained, stemmed exclusively from insular Celtic origins. His book Studies on the legend of the holy Grail (1888) was described by the Athenaeum as ‘the most important contribution to the literature of the Grail legend which has been made in many years’. He also studied the Irish legends and, while acknowledging early Christian influence on some of the later myths, argued that they were essentially pagan. His publications on Irish folklore include The voyage of Bran, son of Febal, to the Land of the Living: an Old Irish saga, with accompanying essays upon the Happy Otherworld among the Irish, and the Celtic doctrine of rebirth (2 vols, 1896–7); ‘Ossian and Ossianic literature’ (Popular Studies, 1899); ‘Cuchulainn: the Irish Achilles’ (Popular Studies, 1900). Nutt, who was a friend of W. B. Yeats (qv), Douglas Hyde (qv), and Jeremiah Curtin (qv), wrote the notes for Hyde's Beside the fire: a collection of Irish Gaelic folk stories (1890), arguing that Irish myths derived from an ancient oral tradition that was still vibrant in the cultural practices and values of the nineteenth-century Irish peasantry. He also wrote the preface to Curtin's Tales of the fairies and of the ghost world (1895).
In addition to research, he became actively involved in a variety of literary and cultural societies. In 1879 he was one of the founding members of the Folklore Society; he served on its council (from 1881) and was twice elected president (1897, 1898). He was a member of the Cymmrodorion Society from 1881 (elected to the council in 1883), and founded the English Goethe Society (1886). In 1898 he was one of the founders of the Irish Texts Society and supervised the production of all its early publications. He often contributed articles to the Folklore Journal (which he founded) and the Folk-lore Record. In 1891 he attended the International Folklore Congress and edited the subsequent Transactions (1892).
On 21 May 1910 he drowned in the Seine at Melun while attempting to rescue his invalid son, who had been thrown from his horse into the river. He was survived by his wife, who took over management of the firm, and his two sons. His eldest son, David Nutt, later took over Nutt & Co. and became an associate of both Hyde and Yeats.