The presence of innumerable poems by such "polite" writers as Robert Burns, Lord Byron, and Thomas Moore (a triumvirate that suggests the inadequacies of a term like "polite") in the existing archives of broadside ballads
, as well as the fact that elite educated gentlemen such as Samuel Pepys, James Boswell, and Sir Walter Scott collected these supposedly low forms indicates just a few of the problems in drawing distinctions between these different ballad traditions based solely on socioeconomic or class criteria.
The book makes some grand claims: 'Broadside ballads
were a uniquely powerful social tool that could educate a wide range of social classes' (p.
The present essay surveys a genre of folksong that has spanned the folk-popular continuum perhaps longer than any other in Anglo-American tradition: the broadside ballad
. On both sides of the Atlantic, folksong collections of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries revealed the extent to which rural singing traditions were influenced by the broadside press.
Before the tabloids took hold of Fleet Street, scandalous news was delivered to the public through "street literature" or "broadside ballads
" as they were better known.
Thomas also gave the Society a collection of hastily printed broadside ballads
that he purchased in bulk from a Boston printer in 1813, making him the first broadside ballad
collector in the United States.
appeared shortly after the invention of printing in the 15th century and were hawked in the streets, fairs, and marketplaces of Europe into the 19th century.
In their named tunes or titles, their conventional division into two parts, and in other features of format, style and length, a small number of libels echoed the world of the broadside ballad
.(37) Some authors appear to have copied directly from favourite items of popular literature.
For a discussion of the tune and its sources see Simpson, The British broadside ballad
and its music, pp.590-91, and Ward, 'Apropos The British broadside ballad
and its music', pp.66-7.
Increasingly separated from the nationalism of the border ballad and its romance of origins and from the broadside ballad
, the nineteenth-century literary ballad relishes instead its own "stylistic connotation," the generic texture that gives a sense of pastness embodied in and felt as style.
One of the most characteristic verbal effects of the sixteenth-century broadside ballad
is the way it summons the presence of a speaker.
(29) 'Animadversions on the Lady Marquess (London, 1680-1?), English Broadside Ballad
Archive http://ebba.english.ucsb.edu/search_combined/?ss=Animadversions +on+the+Lady+Marquess.
During the earlier decades of the eighteenth century, the term "lyric" could denote a number of poetic types ranging from the "high" purposes of the Pindaric Ode to the "light" verse that was on the one hand the offspring of Cavalier poetry and on the other the broadside ballad
. Thus to a critical establishment still preoccupied with notions of hierarchy, the "lyric" potentially designated both the highest and the lowest of poetic impulses.