Some British Ballads


Images and text from Some British Ballads illustrated by Arthur Rackham. No credit is given for whoever might have edited the collection; the ballads appear to be reprinted with minor changes (possibly errors) from Francis James Child’s The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, and indeed the book acknowledges that permission was given to do that.

I bought my copy from Olivier’s Booksop in Picton, Ontario, in May 2006.

Arthur Rackham, the famous illustrator of children’s books, died in 1939, more than 50 years ago, making the images out of copyright here in Canada; the book was published in the USA prior to 1922, and hence is in the public domain in the USA.

[picture: Frontispiece: Clerk Colvill]

Frontispiece: Clerk Colvill

The young man clutches his hat with one hand and with the other holds aloft a sword as he kneels at the edge of a pond. From that same pond a mermaid rises up, arms raised, breasts bare. [more...] [$]

[picture: Title Page]

Title Page

“Some British Ballads
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham
Dodd Mead & Co.
New York.” [more...] [$]

[picture: Clerk Colvill (chapter head)]

Clerk Colvill (chapter head)

This black-and-white line illustration of a mermaid is above the start of the ballad Clerk Colvill. [$]

[picture: Young Bekie]

Young Bekie

The picture shows a young man lying on the floor of a prison cell or castle dungeon [donjon], his hands on his head, and with one ankle chained to the wall. There [...] [more...] [$]

[picture: O Waken, Waken, Burd Isbel]

O Waken, Waken, Burd Isbel

“O it fell once upon a day
    Burd Isbel fell asleep,
An’ up it starts the Billy Blind,
    An’ stood at her bed-feet. [more...] [$]

[picture: The Gardener]

The Gardener

A smiling young man with hauntingly blue eyes stands smiling at the gate to his thatched country cottage. A lady with a country-style scarf and dress addresses him. [more...] [$]

[picture: The Twa Corbies]

The Twa Corbies

Or, The Two Ravens. Two carrion birds sit discussing what they are going to eat for supper, and one mentions a young man, a knight, lying dead nearby, presumably killed by his lover’s new boyfriend. [more...] [$]

[picture: Erlinton]


“Erlinton had a fair daughter; I wat he weird her in a great sin;, For he has built a bigly bower,
And a’ to put that lady in. [more...] [$]

[picture: Get Up and Bar the Door]

Get Up and Bar the Door

The house-wife carries a hot pan of stew by the handle, a cat sits on the hearth by, one assumes, the fire, and the husband looks to his wife even as she in turn looks to the door. [more...] [$]

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