Collectors and collections

Collectors and Collections of Seventeenth-Century Ballads

Ballads were liable to perish as everyday consumer goods, whether pasted onto alehouse walls or recycled to wrap pies, line gloves, dress hair, light tobacco or wipe bottoms.[1] Consequently survival rates were low. For the 1590s, ballads made up 15% of all copyright entries in the Stationers’ Register – the record book of the livery company regulating London’s book trade – yet only a couple of these sheets survive.[2] Much of what remains today was the result of private collecting, an activity that developed significantly during the seventeenth century. Notable contemporary collections, strongly represented in the songs featured on this website, include the 1,800 ballads compiled by the diarist and naval bureaucrat Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), and another 1,500 ballads owned by Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford (1661-1724), but actually assembled by the antiquaries Humfrey Wanley (1672-1726) and John Bagford (1651-1716).

Crucial to the preservation of these private collections was their inclusion within institutional libraries and museums via purchase or bequest after their owners’ deaths. Pepys’s ballads went to Magdalene College, Cambridge, and Harley’s to the British Museum (his collection is now known as the ‘Roxburghe Ballads’). Earlier collections without such end-points were broken up and lost, such as the hundred ballads ‘wrapt vp in Parchment, and bound with a whipcord’ owned by the Coventry mason Captain Cox in 1575.[3] Ballad collecting and its institutional preservation developed alongside an expansion in book ownership and print culture more generally. Book auctions were introduced in the 1670s, the second-hand book trade thrived, and the concept of ‘rare books’ developed.[4] As a result, the activity of contemporary collectors – often elite and male – has shaped the resources by which we study ‘popular culture’ today. It is necessary, therefore, to consider the motivations of these collectors: why did they value ballads, how did they present them, and what were their changing cultural contexts?

First and foremost, ballad sheets were preserved for their historical value – as records of actions, customs, typography and the marketplace for street literature. Pepys’ five folio volumes of ballads were organised under thematic headings: ‘Devotion & Morality’, ‘State & Times’, ‘Love-Pleasant’, ‘Love-Unfortunate’, ‘Tragedy’ and ‘Humour, Frollicks &c Mixt’.[5] They were housed in his meticulously ordered library alongside a variety of prints aimed at the lower end of the marketplace. These included four volumes of cheap two-pence quartos (or chapbooks) that he titled ‘Vulgaria: consisting of the most Noted Pieces of Chivalry, Wit, Pastime, Devotion, & Poetry, in Vogue with the English Populace’.[6] Aside from his thematic categories, Pepys organised the ballad volumes to start with the earliest ‘MSS [manuscripts] & Long Ballads ancient’ in volume 1, moving onto ‘Common Ballads in the Black Letter’ in volumes 2-4, and concluding with ‘Verse Ballads in the White Letter’ (volume 5).[7] A similar organisation was used by Bagford in his smaller, three-volume collection of 385 ballads, beginning with the earliest fragments, progressing onto ‘A Collection of ould Ballets’ (volume 2), and concluding with a ‘Collection of Moderne Ballets Eliges songs and poemes in the Whit[e] Letter’ (volume 3).[8]

Both Pepys and Bagford were part of an overlapping culture of antiquarianism, scientific investigation and book collecting that was situated within the associational world of coffeehouses, clubs and intellectual communities such as the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries. Pepys and Bagford, active in these societies, shared antiquarian interests in ballads. In one respect, ballad collecting contributed to their wider compilation of evidence illustrating London’s topography, customs and history.[9] In another, studying ballads contributed towards an early form of ‘bibliography’ that was concerned with the history and development of print and scribal media.[10] The providential ‘Art and Mystery of Printing’ had, since the Reformation, attracted widespread interest. By the late seventeenth century, the print marketplace was expanding at such a rate that contemporaries started to take an even greater interest in the ‘mechanical’ origins and impact of this ‘printing revolution’. Ballads were typographical curiosities, alongside early printed books and playing cards, that documented older forms of printing relatively unchanged for centuries. Pepys explained at the beginning of his collection that it was:

continued to the year 1700. When the Form, till then peculiar thereto, vizt of the Black Letter with Pictures, seems (for cheapness sake) wholly laid aside, for that of White Letter without Pictures.

Black-letter referred to gothic typeface, often associated with the common people, which was beginning to be replaced by white-letter (roman typeface) by the end of the seventeenth century.[11] These developments were important for Bagford, too, who collected and sold print specimens (including very early fragments of incunabula) to document his own history of printing, a project subscribed to by members of the Royal Society.[12]

The historical value of ballads did not reside in their typography alone, of course. As some of the most ubiquitous prints in circulation, ballads offered an insight into society past and present. As the early ballad collector, John Selden (1584-1654), explained:

Though some make slight of Libels, yet you may see by them how the Wind sits: As take a Straw and throw it up into the Air, you shall see by that which way the Wind is, which you shall not do by casting up a Stone. More Solid things do not shew the Complexion of the times so well, as Ballads and Libels.[13]

Ballads were one part of a news culture that expanded significantly during Selden’s lifetime, alongside corantoes, pamphlets and newsbooks. Ballads contributed to this marketplace, offering sensational news stories (marketed as ‘True Relations’) about violent crimes, monstrous births and prophetical floods – sometimes even parodying news culture.[14] Later in the century, Pepys used Selden’s quotation to preface the first volume of his ballads, which also incorporated some of Selden’s own collection. Ballads in this volume contain early polemical works from the Reformation that, no doubt, invoked the ‘Complexion’ of those times for their latter owners, such as the mid-sixteenth-century ‘Ballad of Luther, The Pope, A Cardinal & A Husbandman’.[15]

Ephemeral news and polemic provided the raw materials for history. The historian John Rushworth drew upon new-books to write his influential history of the Civil Wars, Historical Collections (8 vols, 1659-1701); and readers assembled news into their own miscellanies and bound volumes. Such collections were ‘for the Use of Succeeding Ages’, when ‘Actions yet may be presidents to posterities’, according to George Thomason, who collected around 22,000 printed items (including many ballads) during the civil wars and interregnum.[16] Collectors after the Restoration such as Narcissus Luttrell (1657-1732), John Verney (1640–1717) and Anthony Wood (1632-1695) preserved topical white-letter ballads alongside other prints to document a new set of tumultuous events: the succession crisis, the Glorious Revolution and the rage of party.[17] They annotated these ballads (usually aimed at more elite audiences) with dates, deciphered coded references to public figures, and added (sometimes pointed) comments. ‘A popish Libell’, scribbled Luttrell onto a ballad that offended his whig politics.[18] Some especially successful topical ballads featured on this webside - The Rare Vertue of an Orange and The Whig Rampant, for example - were published in both black- and white-letter. For individuals such as Luttrell, who avidly purchased this material alongside the latest partisan pamphlet, their motivations were less influenced by antiquarianism than figures like Pepys or Bagford.

This distinction between antiquarianism and topical reading is not absolute, however. Pepys had antiquarian interests but he nevertheless collected nearly every surviving copy of the topical ballads in circulation during the economic downturn of the 1690s.[19] Bagford likewise valued old ballads for shedding light on contemporary developments. In the context of his printing project, proposed in the 1700s when daily newspapers were first established, Bagford described how the mid-sixteenth century ballad was the forerunner of this media.

in ye day of Queene Mary they beian to fley about in ye Sitey of London: as seuirall ballet and outher songes & poemes as a Ballet of ye Queenes being with Childe and these I say ware ye fore runners of ye newes pappers.[20]

Despite his unlearned orthography – Bagford was a shoemaker who became a bookseller to elite collectors – such observations were reprinted by other antiquaries during the eighteenth century.[21] They contributed towards a general opinion, not held universally in Selden’s period, that ‘the obscurest pamphlet, or the flimsiest ballad, may throw a ray of light upon some pregnant fact of history’.[22] Collectors who took this view included Richard Rawlinson (1690-1755) and Francis Douce (1757-1834), whose ballads were bequeathed to the Bodleian Library (the featured edition of A Voyage to Virginia is from the Douce collection).[23]

Aside from these historical insights, collectors were interested in the contemporary tastes of ‘ordinary’ people. There was plenty of overlap between Pepys’s chapbook collection of ‘Vulgaria’, expressly illustrating what was ‘in Vogue with the English Populace’, and the popular ballads featured on this website. The chapbook version of A pleasant new Ballad of the Miller of Mansfield, for example, was kept in volume two of Pepys’s ‘Vulgaria’, titled ‘penny merriments’.[24] Pepys also collected ‘penny godlies’ (moralising religious chapbooks) that had their ballad counterparts within his thematic category, ‘Devotion & Morality’, such as An Hundred Godly Lessons.[25] It has been suggested that, ‘as the son of a poor tailor’, Pepys ‘felt an urge to keep in touch with his humble roots.’[26] Certainly later collectors such as James Boswell (1740-1795) collected out of nostalgia for their childhood years of reading popular print. ‘I have always retained a kind of affection for them,’ went the preface to Boswell’s chapbook volume, ‘as they recall my early days.’[27] In any case, Pepys was not just a documenter of the ballad marketplace in the 1690s but, in his youth, a participant within it. ‘I occasioned much mirth with a ballet I brought with me, made from the seamen at sea to their ladies in town', he wrote in his diary for the 2nd January, 1665.

This raises a key context in which ballad collecting developed: the growing separation of ‘popular’ and ‘elite’ culture that roughly occurred between the years 1500 and 1800.[28] Removing the musical ballad, often sung by female hawkers, from its ‘common’ social settings and placing it within the controlled, silent and male-dominated library can be understood as one such act of separation. The gendered nature of this activity even led the late Georgian collector, Sarah Sophia Banks (1744-1818), to be mistaken for a street-singer while hunting down halfpenny ballads in Smithfield.[29] Elite interest in popular balladry was usually tinged with a patronising language: Boswell’s ‘affection’ for implicitly primitive chapbooks or Selden describing ballads as ‘straws’ in comparison to ‘More Solid things’. Only with a high dose of irony were the educated happy to mix high and low topics in literary culture, where humanists penned ‘mock-encomia’ upon unworthy topics such as wine, gnats or folly.[30] Perhaps elite audiences took a similar ironic pleasure from ‘good-fellowship’ songs that survive in multiple editions, including A Pleasant New Song in Praise of a Leather Bottel.

For the period that concerns this website (1557-1711),  however, this process of separation was far from complete. Stories and morals within popular ballads were often part of a shared culture, rather than one exclusive to the common sort. For example, the moral of providing charity to one’s parents in old age (lest your own children turn against you), taught in A most excellent Ballad, of an old man and his wife, was also transmitted in ‘jest-books’ (compilations of jokes) from 1532 onwards. An elite Lancashire landowner, Nicholas Blundell (1669-1737), wrote down a version of this moralising jest in his anecdote book during the 1700s.

A Prodigal Fellow[,] as had Children[,] saw his Decrepit old Father eating his Meat very sluvenly[,] so said to him by way of dirision that he would get him a Swine Trough to eat out of, a Son of the young Fellows standing by said & when you are old must not I get you a Swine Trough too Daddy[?][31]

Ballads based on classical stories were another source of common culture. The story of a hunter turned into a horned beast in A new Sonnet, shewing how the Goddesse Diana transformed Acteon into the shape of an Hart provided the set-up for ‘cuckold horn’ jokes, printed in jest-books that cost one shilling and thus aimed at well-to-do consumers.

On a jealous Citizen. / A Citizen going out of Town with some of his neighbors to hunt, Prethee Sweet-heart (says he to his wife) pray that I meet not a Diana, and so come home like to Actaeon turn'd, or be torn to pieces with the Dogs. His wife thinking he had closely jeer'd her, and thinking to be revenged, said, Truly, husband, whether you meet Diana or no, I'le take order you shall not want.[32]

As the section on Methodology acknowledges, the personal tastes of collectors such as Pepys – a jealous husband himself and a navy administrator who owned many ballads on these themes – remain a complicating factor when assessing a collection’s typicality.

At least until the 1800s, it is therefore helpful to think of collectors as having one foot inside popular culture and another outside. A combination of attraction and ambivalence towards the popular is evident in the youthful activities of Anthony Wood, a collector and musician with a ‘natural and unsatiable’ thirst for music and ‘an eare’ to ‘play any tune’ upon the fiddle.[33] While Wood was a student at Oxford in the 1650s his contemporaries shared stories of gentlemen switching their clothes with ‘poore’ ballad-sellers, helping them to sell their products by ‘singing excellently in the markett’.[34] Such tales may have inspired the ‘frolick’ devised by Wood and his companions in 1654 ‘to disguise our selves in poore habits,’ travel to Farringdon fair, ‘and like contry fidlers scrape for our livings.’ The trip was a success (‘my Companions would afterwards glory in this’), but Wood was left ‘ashamed and could never endure to heare of it.’[35] Like other collectors, Wood picked up the ‘little tradition’ of the common people and dropped it at his leisure.

The separation of popular and elite came into sharper focus during the eighteenth century as a romanticised vision of balladry developed within literary and antiquarian culture. In 1711 Joseph Addison recommended to tasteful ‘polite’ readers the crude yet quaint poetic qualities of old ballads such as Chevy-Chase and the Children in the Wood – featured on this website as A Memorable Song on the unhappy hunting in Chevy-Chase and The Norfolke Gentleman his last Will and Testament. For Addison, the latter was a ‘pretty Tragical Story’ that, notwithstanding the ‘Poorness of Expression’, was ‘genuine and unaffected’ in its ‘Simplicity’.[36] Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765) further elevated the ballad tradition for polite readers with a selection based on an ‘old Folio M.S. Collection of Historical Ballads’ – supposedly rescued from the hands of an ignorant maid preparing to light a fire with it.[37] Percy prefaced the collection with ‘An Essay On The Ancient Minstrels In England’ who, unlike contemporary street hawkers, were esteemed by noble households and royal courts. Percy reprinted Sir Philip Sidney’s poetic defence of Chevy-Chase (also referred to by Addison) as a ‘rude’ yet moving piece: ‘I never heard the old song of Percy and Douglas that I found not my heart moved more than with a trumpet; and yet it is sung but by some blind crowder’.

This interest in ‘old’ classic ballads had also played a role in the earlier collecting practices of Pepys, Bagford and their contemporaries. The antiquary Thomas Hearne (1678-1735) was interested in ballads from the ‘old times’, written by the ‘best Poets’ such as Chaucer. The Reformation had, in his opinion, contaminated the marketplace with ‘illiterate, & ill-natured’ ballad makers who had abandoned ‘Decorum or good Manners’.[38] Earlier publishers had likewise recognised the marketability of classic ballads. William Thackeray (act. 1689) – one of the ‘ballad partners’ who owned the copyright for these songs and stored them within their ‘ancient ballad warehouse’ – printed lists advertising a stock of classics (ballads and chapbooks). Many of these classics feature on this website, including A proper new Ballad, intituled, The wandring Prince of Troy.[39] Such publishers evidently had an eye towards the growing collectors’ market, their stock-lists surviving in both Pepys' and Bagford’s collections. Later on, publishers sold premade compilations, including A Collection of Old Ballads (3 vols., 1723-25); and outside the control of the Stationers’ Company, eighteenth-century booksellers such as William Dicey (1690-1756) sold classic ballads that had done well in the previous century, alongside a range of street literature aimed towards the popular end of the market.[40]

The polite elevation of ‘Old Heroic Ballads’ by Addison and Percy set the tone for the late Georgian ballad enthusiasts, John Pinkerton (1758-1826) and Walter Scott (1771-1832). Preoccupied with concepts of ‘civilization’ and ‘barbarity’, they contrasted the commercial print culture of the former with the ‘popular’ oral tradition of the latter, now rarely discoverable except within rural and Celtic regions. ‘The invention of printing’, Scott claimed, ‘necessarily occasioned the downfall of the Order of Minstrels’ and the ancient ballad tradition.[41] Conversely for critics of luxurious and corrupt ‘civilization’, classic ballads held nostalgic counter-cultural value. This was the case for the politically radical antiquaries, Joseph Ritson (1752-1803) and Douce, as well as John Clare (1793-1864), a poet who was brought up an agricultural labourer. Clare intended to make ‘a collection of old Ballads’ from the music of ‘the hayfield and the shepherd's hut on the pasture’. To his dismay he found old melodies were being replaced by the ‘senseless balderdash’ of the modern marketplace – presumably derived from the slip songs and garlands that diversified street literature in this period.[42]

Into the nineteenth century, antiquarian collectors still preserved specimens of urban street literature that encompassed broadsides and slip-songs, but the interests of ‘folk’ ballad collectors became more specialised.[43] Unlike their forbears, they had little interest in the printed marketplace. Francis James Child in his English and Scottish Popular Ballads (5 vols., 1882-98) aimed to document the uncontaminated oral tradition of rural folk. He therefore found little of value in the Pepys and Roxburghe collections, calling them ‘veritable dung-hills, in which, only after a deal of sickening grubbing, one finds a very moderate jewel.’[44] For Child, print and oral cultures were antithetical, rather than mutually reinforcing – although today we appreciate how ballads that have entered oral tradition were often in print circulation centuries beforehand.

No two collectors or collections are quite the same, but, as we have seen, there were overlapping interests that motivated the preservation of perishable, common ballads. These ranged from their status as typographical artefacts, as historical or topical evidence, as products of a shared culture, and as literary classics. The ballad collections we use today were formed in the context of elite sociability and intellectual investigation, in which collecting was a display of taste and learning. But their compilation was also an enjoyable activity, whether coloured by irony or nostalgia, that mediated between the cultures of popular and elite society that were still in the process of separating.

Tim Somers

[1] Simon Werrett, ‘The Sociomateriality of Waste and Scrap Paper in Eighteenth-Century England’, in Carla Bittel, Elaine Leong and Christine von Oertzen (eds), Working with Paper: Gendered Practices in the History of Knowledge (Pittsburgh, 2019), ch. 3.

[2] Alexandra Hill, ‘Lost Print in England: Entries in the Stationers’ Company Register’, in Flavia Bruni and Andrew Pettegree (eds), Lost Books: Reconstructing the Print World of Pre-Industrial Europe (Leiden, 2016), p. 153. A figure made starker by the estimation that only about 50 percent of ballads were entered into the register. See Hyder E. Rollins, ‘The Black-Letter Broadside Ballad’, PMLA, vol. 34, no. 2 (1919), pp. 258-339 (p. 281).

[3] F. J. Furnivall (ed.), Captain Cox, his ballads and books (1871).

[4] See, for example, David McKitterick, The Invention of Rare Books: Private Interest and Public Memory, 1600-1840 (Cambridge, 2018); and for a more detailed overview of ballad collectors, see Angela McShane, Political Broadside Ballads of Seventeenth-Century England: A Critical Bibliography (London, 2011).

[5] Richard Luckett, ‘The Collection: Origin and History’, in Robert Latham (ed.), Catalogue of the Pepys Library at Magdalene College Cambridge … Ballads, vol. ii, part ii (Woodbridge, 1994).

[6] Margaret Spufford, Small Books and Pleasant Histories: Popular Fiction and its Readership in Seventeenth-Century England (Cambridge, 1985), ch. 6.

[7] Robert Latham, ed., Catalogue of the Pepys Library at Magdalene College (6 vols, Woodbridge, 1981–1989), vol. II.ii (‘Ballads: Catalogue). These volumes and other collections are available on the English Broadside Ballad Archive []

[8] ‘The Bagford Ballads’, British Library, C.40.m.9-11. Discussed in Tim Somers, Ephemeral Print Culture in Early Modern England: Sociability, Politics and Collecting (Woodbridge, 2021), p. 124.

[9] For this interest see Pepys’s volume: ‘My Collection of Prints and Drawings (as farr as extent and recoverable) relating to the Citys of London & Westminster and their Environs Vol. I. Put together Anno Domini. 1700’. For Bagford’s use of ballads as part of a history of London see Somers, Ephemeral Print Culture, pp. 196-7.

[10] T.A. Birrell, ‘Anthony Wood, John Bagford and Thomas Hearne as Bibliographers’, in Robin Myers and Michael Harris (eds), Pioneers in Bibliography (Winchester, 1988).

[11] Keith Thomas, “The Meaning of Literacy in Early Modern England”, in Gerd Baumann (ed.), The Written Word: Literacy in Transition (Oxford, 1986), pp. 97-131. For the latest overview of the associations of black-letter typography see Patricia Fumerton, The Broadside Ballad in Early Modern England: Moving Media, Tactical Publics (Philadelphia, 2020), pp. 182-6.

[12] John Bagford, ‘An Essay on the Invention of Printing’, in Philosophical Transactions, vol. 25, nos 305–312 (1706), pp. 2397–2410. See also Somers, Ephemeral Print Culture, ch. 1.

[13] John Selden, Table-Talk (1689), p. 93.

[14] See, for example, The Reward of Murther, In the Execution of Richard Smith (1640), EBBA 36085; A discription of a monstrous Chylde (1562), EBBA 37062; A True Relation, Of The great Floods that happened in many parts of England, EBBA 30875. For a parody see The Post Ware (1622?), EBBA 20095.

[15] EBBA: 31617.

[16] Michael Mendle, ‘Preserving the Ephemeral: Reading, Collecting, and the Pamphlet Culture of Seventeenth-Century England’, in Jennifer Andersen and Elizabeth Sauer (eds), Books and Readers in Early Modern England (Philadelphia, 2002), p. 202.

[17] Luttrell’s ballads have recently been added to EBBA []; for Wood’s ballads see Nicholas K. Kiessling, The Library of Anthony Wood (Oxford, 2002) and []. Wood’s and Verney’s ballads are intermixed with pamphlets and other prints. The latter’s collection is housed at Cambridge University Library, Sel.2.118–121 and Sel.2.123.

[18] S. Parks (ed.), The Luttrell File (New Haven, 1999), no. 1421: The ignoramus ballad (1681), viewable at EBBA 32296.

[19] See, for example, Poor Man’s Complaint (1692-3?), EBBA 20711.

[20] Bagford, ‘newes papers: of publicke newes’, BL, Harley MS 5910 I, f. 37. Bagford probably had in mind a ballad sent by one of subscribers, John Bull, to Pepys: ‘The Ballad of Ioy, upon the publication of Q. Mary, Wife of King Philip, her being with child’, EBBA 31607.

[21] For a version with correct orthography see John Nichols, Literary Anecdotes (1812), iv, pp. 33-37.

[22] Edward Edwards (1812–1886) qu. in Philip Connell, ‘Bibliomania: Book Collecting, Cultural Politics, and the Rise of Literary Heritage in Romantic Britain’, Representations, no. 71 (2000), p. 35.

[23] For these collections see [] & [].

[24] Roger Thompson (ed.), Samuel Pepys’ Penny Merriments (London, 1976), pp. 44-49

[25] Tessa Watt, Cheap Print and Popular Piety, 1550-1640 (Cambridge, 1993).

[26] Thompson, ‘Introduction’, in Samuel Pepys’ Penny Merriments, p. 12.

[27] Frederick A. Pottile (ed.), Boswell’s London Journal 1762-1763 (Edinburgh, 2nd ed. 2004). p. 299, ft. 6.

[28] Peter Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (3rd edn, Farnham, 2009).

[29] Gillian Russell, ‘The Neglected History of the History of Printed Ephemera’, Melbourne Historical Journal, vol. 42, no. 1 (2014), p. 24; Arlene Carol Leis, ‘Sarah Sophia Banks: Femininity, Sociability and the Practice of Col­lecting in Late Georgian England’, 2 vols, University of York, Ph.D. thesis (2013), I, p. 26.

[30] Peter G. Platt, Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Farnham, 2009), pp. 20-3.

[31] Mery Tales and Quicke Answeres (1567 ed.), printed in W. Carew Hazlitt, Shakespeare Jest-Books (London, 1864), pp. 121-2; Pasquils Jests (1604), ‘Of the old man of Monmouth’; Lancashire Archives, DDBL acc. 6121 (box 1), Nicholas Blundell, ‘Anecdote Book’, no. 4.

[32] A Choice Banquet Of Witty Jests, Rare Fancies, and Pleasant Novels (1660), no. 294. See also a similar joke (‘On a Painter and a Citizen’) at The Complaisant companion, or, New jests (1674), p. 91

[33] Anthony Wood, The Life and Times of Anthony Wood, Andrew Clark (ed.) (5 vols, 1891– 1900), i, p. 173.

[34] Cumbria Archive Service, Kendal, WDRY/4/1/2, Daniel Fleming, ‘Miscellanea’ (c. 1650), ff. 4-4v.

[35] Nicolas K. Kiessling, eds., The Life of Anthony Wood in His Own Words (Oxford, 2009), pp. 192-3.

[36] The Spectator, no. 85 (7 June 1711). See also nos 70 and 74. For these ballads see EBBA 32069 and 31808.

[37] Paula McDowell, ‘The Art of Printing was Fatal: Print Commerce and the Idea of Oral Tradition in Long Eighteenth-Century Ballad Discourse’, in Patricia Fumerton and Anita Guerrini (eds), Ballads and Broadsides in Britain, 1500–1800 (Farnham, 2010), ch. 6.

[38] Hearne to Bagford, 14 Feb. 1714, C.E. Doble (ed.), Remarks and Collections of Thomas Hearne (11 vols, Oxford, 1885–1898), iv, pp. 307-8, discussed in Somers, Ephemeral Print Culture, pp. 172-6

[39] William Thackeray, These small books ... (n.d.), in ‘The Bagford Ballads’, vol. II, C.40.m.10, f. 2 [EBBA 37337]. See also the inclusion in volume V of Pepys’s ballads of a transcript of the 'indenture' between the ballad partners and their inventory. Luckett, ‘The Collection’, p. xiv.

[40] Dianne Dugaw, ‘The Popular Marketing of “Old Ballads”: The Ballad Revival and Eighteenth-Century Antiquarianism Reconsidered’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, vol. 21, no. 1 (1987), pp. 71-90; David Atkinson and Steve Roud (eds), Street Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century: Producers, Sellers, Consumers (Newcastle, 2017).

[41] McDowell, ‘The Art of Printing was Fatal, p. 50.

[42] Qu. in Dugaw, ‘The Popular Marketing of “Old Ballads”, p. 87.

[43] See, for example, 16,000 broadsides and slip-songs in 26 volumes collected by Sir Frederic Madden (1801-1873) in Cambridge University Library [].

[44] Qu. in McDowell, ‘The Art of Printing was Fatal’, p. 54.

Back to top