Francis James Child:
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads


Francis James Child's great compilation of the ballads The English and Scottish Popular Ballads first published between 1882 and 1898 is now republished - the final volume of the Loomis House edition is now published - Summer 2011. This essential reference work on the ballads has been out of print since the 1960s when it was published in five volumes by Dover (New York, 1965) and, although the Dover facsimile edition has now been reprinted, a completely new and fully corrected edition by Loomis House Press is now in print with all the tunes in place with their texts.

For anyone interested in the ballads as song or as literature or as an insight into culture and history the only starting point is Professor Francis James Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Now, at long last, a new edition is becoming available - and this is no mere facsimile - the work has been completely reset, corrected and prepared by Mark and Laura Heiman and is now available in the set of five volumes published by Loomis House Press in the USA and available from Springthyme Music in the UK.

Older editions of this seminal work have become scarce and Loomis House Press is pleased to present the first new (non-facsimile) edition of the Child collection, completely re-set and edited to include all of Professor Child's post-publication corrections and additions. Volume 1 (Ballads 1-53) was released in January 2002, Volume 2 (Ballads 54-113) followed a year later, and the full set now completed with Volume 5 (Ballads 266-305) published in Summer 2011.

As stated in their publicity: First published 1882-1898, Professor Child's monumental work on the ballad tradition of England and Scotland stands as a foundation document for all subsequent ballad scholarship and for trends such as the twentieth century folk revival. FJ Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads presents 305 distinct ballads, most with multiple variants, with commentary that traces the origins of the ballad stories through the literature and traditions of much of the western world. Professor Child's painstaking research ranged from ancient Greece to medieval Norway, with translations and detailed citations for all of the sources on which he draws.

Scotland's Child Ballad Site is gradually increasing the number of pages devoted to the Child ballads. We eventually intend to provide links and pages for all the ballads that are still part of the Scottish oral tradition - with links to sound files of archive field recordings. For a start, here's a link to Child#2: The Elfin Knight and another to Child#12: Lord Randal. In each case the texts have been taken unedited from earlier editions of Child including the new Loomis House edition (with permission) with hypertext links to enable easy navigation through the ballad variants. A [ LINK ] has also been provided on each Child ballad page that leads to an expandable selection of pages of traditional versions from the archives - Versions from the Singing Tradition - which will include ballad variants collected from current and recent living tradition with linked sound files yet to be put in place. For MORE BALLADS go to the Child Ballads: Numbered List.

There are now quite a number of sites on the internet where ballad texts can be found. A few of these sites also provide tunes, usually as midi files. Some sites provide access to texts and tunes of ballads versions from well known folk singers, but there are few links to archive versions collected from the living tradition. But many of the ballads are still part of a living cultural tradition - especially here in Scotland at the heart of Child's ballad country. Who in Scotland does NOT know snippets at least of such ballads as Barbara Allen (Child #84), The Dowie Dens o Yarrow (Child #214), Mary Hamilton (Child #173), Sir Patrick Spens (Child #58), The Jolly Beggar (Child #279) or Mill o Tifty's Annie (Child #233) - even if only as recitations in school or as part of English studies at University? In recent years the folk song revival has led to a reawakening of interest by singers in acquiring an active ballad repertoire. With currently available technology there is no reason at all why there should not be access to a wide range of ballads with texts, background information about source singers, archive and commercial recordings, tunes and linked sound files!

We would welcome suggestions and would be pleased to accept ballad variants, text and sound file links to the site. Contact us by email:

Peter Shepheard
Administrator: Scotland's Child Ballad Site
Balmalcolm House Balmalcom, Cupar, Fife KY15 7TJ, Scotland.
tel: +44 (0)1337 830773

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