Jessie Laidlay Weston (1850-1928) was an independent scholar and folklorist, working mainly on mediaeval Arthurian texts.
Her best-known work is From Ritual to Romance (1920). In it she brought to bear an analysis harking back to James George Frazer on the Grail legend, arguing for origins earlier than the Christian or Celtic sources conventionally discussed at the time. It was cited by TS Eliot in his notes to The Waste Land.
It also caused her to be dismissed as a theosophist by FL Lucas, in a hostile review of Eliot's poem. The interpretation of the Grail quest as mystical and connected to self-realisation, which she added to the anthropological layer of reading, was to become increasingly popular during the 1920s.
According to Richard Barber in The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief, the Wasteland as theme in the Grail romances is of minor importance until the last works of the cycle, and the emphasis on fertility is "an interpretation which has haunted twentieth-century literature to a degree quite disproportionate to its basis in fact". The book appears in the film Apocalypse Now amongst those kept by the character Kurtz, along with The Golden Bough.
While Weston's work on the Grail theme has been criticised as fanciful speculation in the years since the publication of From Ritual to Romance, her editions of numerous medieval romances have been commended as valuable translations.