The original version of this article appeared in SRFN News, Volume 24 (Autumn 1999)
Newsletter No. 24 Dave Herron's Chapbook
All views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily constitute SRFN policy.
David Herron's Chapbook
I am a member of the Traditional Song Forum (TSF) and it was at one of their meetings that the idea first arose to publish
a list of books currently available on traditional folk song. Members of the TSF are indicated by (TSF) in the
All the books listed in the first section below are currently in print and listed on British Books in Print.
It is intended to provide singers and all those interested in folk songs with a starting point and access to the songs.
Please note: I mean starting point! I hope other singers and musicians will feel free to add and update this
list with their own favourites and discoveries. I have been writing under the name David Herron for other publications
for some time, and so I have finally adapted it for my writings on folk music.
Dave Eckersley - Todmorden, West Yorks. February 1999.
Sources in Print
Expanded and updated by Malcolm Douglas, May/ August 2001.
Current prices are given where known; these may vary between retailers.
See also: Sources out of Print
IMPORTANT NOTE: Llanerch Publishers, referred to a number of times above, now trade as Llanerch Press.
BARING-GOULD, Rev. Sabine, Garland of Country Songs. Llanerch Publishers, 1998. Pbk £12.95 (ISBN 186143071X)
Llanerch seem to have cornered the market with their attractive facsimile reprints.
Garland was first published in 1895, a year after the better known Songs of the West.
Introduction by Martin Graebe (TSF)
BOYES, Georgina, The Imagined Village. Manchester University Press. Pbk £12.99 (ISBN 0719045711)
An important background work, by a leading scholar in the field, on the beginnings of
folk song collection in the British Isles with details of the collectors and the politics
and ideologies that underlined their work.
BROWN, Jeremy, Hampshire & Berkshire Folk Songs. J. Brown Portsmouth. Pbk £1.80 (ISBN 0951518739)
BRUCE & STOKOE, Northumbrian Minstrelsey. Llanerch, 1998. Pbk £9.95 (ISBN 1861430396)
Another Llanerch reprint containing, apart from the pipe tunes, a wealth of material from the Northeast. Originally published in 1882.
CARSON. Ciaran, Last Night's Fun. Pimlico, 1997. Pbk £10.00 (ISBN 0172662529)
This little book has no music or song in it. But I would have felt unsatisfied if I
had not included Carson's delightful account of growing up with and learning to play
traditional Irish music. It's all here: the beauty of fugitive nights in pubs, honouring
the memory of dead players - Seamus Tansey, Joe Cooley, & Seamus Ennis. For sheer lyrical
writing and atmosphere I recommend it as ultimate bedtime reading for any folkie!
Open the Door and Let Us In: Folk Songs for Children and Adults. Steel Carpet Music. Pbk £2.00 (ISBN 1871391008)
Kentish Songster: Folk Songs from Kent. Steel Carpet Music. £5.00 (ISBN 1871391148)
False Waters: Ballads and Songs. Steel Carpet Music. £2.00 (ISBN 1871391083)
COLONNE, Celia Morrison, Wiltshire Folk Songs. Wiltshire Folk Life Society: Spiral. £3.00 (ISBN 0907756034)
COPPER, Bob, A Song For Every Season. Coppersongs. Pbk £14.95 (ISBN 095262401X)
Award winning account of Bob Copper's travels in Sussex and Hampshire collecting songs from traditional
singers for the B.B.C. It captures a whole way of country life that has now all but disappeared. The book
also includes a selection of songs from the repertoire of the famous Rottingdean family. Pure gold in every sense!
COPPIN, Johnny, A Country Christmas. Windrush Press. Pbk £12.99 (ISBN 0900075775)
An unusual compilation by the Gloucestershire singer formerly with Decameron, including verse, anecdotes,
tunes, songs and carols drawn from the folk tradition and literature.
CRÓINÍN, Daíbhí Ó, The Songs of Elizabeth Cronin. Four Courts Press, 1999, £24.95 (ISBN 1851822593)
A (perhaps) flawed but nevertheless important exploration of the life and repertoire of a very influential traditional singer who spanned the English and Irish language traditions of Northern Ireland. Includes notation of 196 songs, and is accompanied by two CDs containing archive recordings of 59 of Mrs. Cronin's songs.
DAVENPORT, Paul (ed), South Riding Folk Network Song Book. SRFN Pbk, 1998. £6.95 (ISBN 0952985756)
Songs from South Yorkshire and the Sheffield area with versions of well known songs, and some interesting
regional material from the amazingly energetic South Riding Folk Network. Paul Davenport (TSF) is also
responsible for two well-researched tune books with music from the area. ISBN 0952985705.
Click here for more details and to order these books from SRFN
DAWNEY, Michael (ed), Ploughboy's Glory: Collection of Hitherto Unpublished Folk Songs. English Folk Dance and Song Society, Pbk., £6.50 (ISBN 0854181172)
Thirty songs collected by George Butterworth between 1906 and 1913.
DOUGLAS, Sheila, Come Gie's a Sang. Hardie Press, Pbk., 1996, £11.25. (ISBN 0946868158)
GATHERER, Nigel & SHEPHEARD, Peter, Songs and Ballads of Dundee. John Donald Publishers Ltd, Pbk., 2000. £8.99 (ISBN: 0859765385)
Over 70 songs, traditional and recent, dealing with life and work in Dundee.
HARKER, Dave, Fakesong : The Manufacture of British "Folksong" 1700 to the Present Day. Open University Press, 1985. Pbk. £22.50 (ISBN 0335150667)
A detailed study of folksong "collection", and of the principal collectors. While it contains no song texts or melodies, it is nevertheless an important contribution to our understanding of how we got to where we are now, and who we have to thank (or blame!) for it.
HEALY, James N (ed), Ballads from the Pubs of Ireland. Ossian Publications.
Vol.1: Popular Songs and Ballads. £3.95 (ISBN 190042830X)
Vol. 2: Ballads from an Irish Fireside. £3.99 (ISBN 1900428350)
Vol. 3: Comic Songs. £3.99 (ISBN 1900428407)
HUNTINGDON, Gayle and HERRMAN, Lani (eds), with contributions from John Moulden. Sam Henry's Songs of the People. University of Georgia Press , 1990. Hardback £44.95 (ISBN: 0820312584), Paperback £22.50 (ISBN: 0820312592).
Sam Henry's important collection of songs sung principally in the North of Ireland grew out of a long-running series of articles in the Coleraine Northern Constitution, beginning in 1923 and continuing, at times under other editorship, until 1939. A further volume of around 100 songs, edited by John Moulden, is planned.
JONES, Lewis (ed), Sweet Sussex: Folk Songs from the Broadwood Collections. Ferret Publications, 34 Maney Hill Road, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands B72 1JL. Pbk £3.95 (ISBN 0952636301)
The result of Lewis Jones' (TSF) research into the tunes and music to the Broadwood collection.
JONES, Lewis (ed), Miss Broadwood's Delight: Folk Songs from Sussex & other English Counties. Ferret Publications. Pbk £4.15 (ISBN 095263631X)
KENNEDY, Peter, Folk Songs of Britain & Ireland. Oak Publications. Pbk £24.95 (ISBN 0711902836)
Peter Kennedy's authoritative and comprehensive record of traditional singing in the British Isles
largely based on the BBC sound archives from the 50s. Includes examples in Scottish, Irish & Manx Gaelic,
Cornish, Welsh, Channel Islands French and Romany, along with extensive notes on written and recorded sources. Invaluable
and irreplaceable - 'the folk singers Bible'.
KIDSON, Frank, Traditional Tunes. Llanerch, 1999. Pbk £9.95 (ISBN 1861430817)
Another classic reprint for Llanerch, originally published in 1891. Described by Lucy Broadwood as 'a turning point...the first book
in which tunes and texts given in 'undoctored form' are accompanied by scholarly critical notes'.
KINSLEY, James, Burns: Poems and Songs. Oxford University Press, 1971. Pbk., £12.99 (ISBN 0192811142)
Burns used a lot of traditional material in his work, besides collecting folksongs for Johnson's Musical Museum. This edition is based on Kinsley's three volume textual edition of 1968, and includes music.
LOESBERG, John (ed)
Folk Song & Ballads Popular in Ireland. Ossian Publications. £2.75 (ISBN 0946005001)
Songs and Ballads of Ireland. Ossian . £2.95 (ISBN 0946005532)
More Songs and Ballads of Ireland. Ossian . £2.95 (ISBN 0946005540)
Traditional Folksongs & Ballads of Scotland Vol 1. Ossian £4.95 (ISBN 0946005788)
Traditional Folksongs & Ballads of Scotland Vol 2. Ossian £3.95 (ISBN 0946005796)
Traditional Folksongs & Ballads of Scotland Vol 3. Ossian £3.95 (ISBN 094600580X)
MacDONALD, Keith Norman, The Gesto Collection of Highland Music, Llanerch Pbk., 1997, £14.95 (ISBN 1861430469)
Facsimile reprint of the edition of 1895. A mixed collection of dance music, pipe pieces and songs, mainly Gaelic. Includes an appendix of music collected by Frances Tolmie.
McMAHON, Sean, Poolbeg Book of Irish Ballads. Poolbeg £4.99 (ISBN 1853711276)
MOORE, A.W., Manx Ballads and Music, Llanerch Pbk. £11.95 (ISBN 18611430752)
MUNRO, Ailie, The Democratic Muse, Scottish Cultural Press, 1996. Pbk £8.95 (ISBN 1898218102)
Revised and expanded; originally published in 1984 as The Folk Music Revival in Scotland . An historical survey of the Revival in Scotland: includes an essay by Morag MacLeod on the Gaelic Revival, and detailed notation for some 70 songs.
ORD, John, Bothy Songs and Ballads of Aberdeen Banff & Moray, Angus and the Mearns. John Donald Publishers, 1995. Pbk. £11.95 (ISBN 085976303X)
Originally published in 1930, this important collection (many texts without music, unfortunately) comes with a new introduction by Alexander Fenton.
O'ROURKE, Brian (ed), Pale Rainbow: Gaelic Folk Songs with English Translations. Irish Academic Press. Cloth £15.00 (ISBN 0716524252)
PALMER, Roy, Book of British Ballads. Llanerch, 1999. Pbk £9.95 (ISBN 1861430621)
The first of three items by one of the most interesting contemporary folk song collectors and historians. First published in the Everyman series,
it includes unusual versions of traditional ballads, street ballads and broadsides, Music Hall and
contemporary ballads written today.
PALMER. ROY (ed), Boxing the Compass. Herron Publishing, Pbk. 2001 (ISBN 0954068203)
A revised and expanded re-issue of The Oxford Book of Sea Songs. Another excellent collection from Roy Palmer tracing sea songs from the Middle Ages to the present.
Some unique material and as usual supported by extensive notes.
PALMER, Roy, Bushes and Briars; Folk Songs collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Llanerch, 1999.Pbk £9.50 (ISBN 1861430728)
First published by Everyman, Roy Palmer's selection of songs from the collection of Ralph Vaughan Williams.
One hundred and twenty-one songs selected from a total of 810 making a wide-ranging and representative sample.
PALMER, Roy, Sound of History. Pimlico, 1996. Pbk £14.00 (ISBN 0712673164)
The most ambitious work from Roy Palmer, this volume explores English social history from the perspective
of contemporary song. Arranged by subject, from crime to sport, politics to the sexes, it covers songs of
social comment from the last 400 years.
PETRIE, George, The Complete Collection of Irish Music, edited by Charles Villiers Stanford. Three volumes, originally published 1903-1906. Although primarily a collection of dance tunes, many of them unidentified, this collection also contains a good number of song melodies, sometimes with texts. Llanerch. Pbk. £29.85: individual volumes @ £9.95. (ISBN 1897853440)
PORTER, James & GOWER, Herschel, Jeannie Robertson: Emergent Singer, Transformative Voice. Tuckwell Press, 1995. Pbk. £20.00 (ISBN 1898410844)
An academic study of Jeannie Robertson, one of the most important Scottish source singers to have emerged in the 20th century. Contains notation for 80 songs from her large repertoire.
REED, James, Border Ballads. Spredden Press £7.95 (ISBN 1871739225)
SHARP, Cecil J., One Hundred English Folk Songs. Dover, 1975. Pbk £11.20 (ISBN 0486231925)
The only book of Sharp's work as a folk song collector still in print. It includes notes and introduction
by the best known figure in the history of folk music and dance in this country.
SHAW, Margaret Fay, Folksongs and Folklore of South Uist. Birlinn, Pbk., 1999, £14.99 (ISBN 1841580082)
Originally published in 1955, this is an important compendium of photographs, stories, traditions and songs.
SHULDHAM SHAW, Patrick & LYLE, Emily (editors.) The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection Mercat Press, Cloth; 8 volumes. Discounts available for online purchases: http://www.mercatpress.com/.
The most important folksong publication to appear for a long while, drawn from the extensive collections made in North East Scotland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Gavin Greig and James Duncan.
Volume 1: Nautical, Military and Songs in which Characters adopt the Dress of the Opposite Sex. Mercat, 1981. £35.00 (ISBN 0080257593)
Volume 2: Narrative Songs. Mercat, 1995. £35.00 (ISBN 0080284833)
Volume 3: Songs of the Countryside, of Home and Social Life . Mercat, 1995. £35.00 (ISBN 0080303919)
Volume 4: Songs of Courtship, Night Visiting Songs, Songs About Particular People. Mercat, 1995. £35.00 (I0080365736)
Volume 5: Songs of Love and Marriage: Part 1. Mercat, 1995. £35.00 (ISBN 1873644418)
Volume 6: Songs of Love and Marriage: Part 2. Mercat, 1995. £35.00 (ISBN 1873644426)
Volume 7: Songs of Love and Marriage: Part 3. Mercat, 1996. £35.00 (ISBN 1873644566)
Volume 8: Songs of Parting; Children's Songs; Nonsense Songs; Notes and Index. Mercat, 2002. £35.00 (ISBN:1841830127). Edited by Emily Lyle and Katherine Campbell.
SUMNER, Heywood, The Besom Maker. Llanerch. Pbk £5.95 (ISBN 1861430698)
Originally published in 1888; a small but charmingly-illustrated collection of nine songs with their melodies.
TOLMIE, Frances, One Hundred and Five Songs of Occupation from the Western Isles of Scotland. Llanerch. Pbk. £8.95 (ISBN 1861430388)
Reprinted from the Folk Song Journal of 1911.
VALLELY, Fintan & PIGGOTT, Charlie, Blooming Meadows: the world of Irish Traditional Musicians. Town House. Cloth (ISBN 1860590675)
WALES, Tony, Ballads Bands and Bell-ringers. Field and Furrow Books £1.95 (ISBN 0950816620)
New contact details:
Post: Llanerch Press, Penbryn Lodge, Pandy, Cribyn, Lampeter, Wales SA 48 7QH
Phone & Fax: (01570) 4705657
[Unfortunately, this site is barred to users of browsers older than Netscape 7 or IE 5.]
Sources Out of Print
See also: Sources in Print
There are many wonderful sources of folk songs that are now out of print. The Vaughan Williams Library at
the English Folk Dance & Song Society in London is the main resource in the UK for further investigation
and research. For further information, see http://www.efdss.org/
David Atkinson's English Folk Song: an introductory bibliography based on the holdings of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library of the EFDSS is now available online.
There are, however, a number of titles that do appear in second hand bookshops and through
specialist suppliers that are worth looking out for.
There are a number of websites which carry listings from second-hand book dealers all over the world; probably the most useful is BookFinder.com, which also searches the indexes of other sites. Although it's more fun trawling through bookshops in person, the Internet now provides us with the opportunity of finding things far more easily. Patience and persistence can occasionally be rewarded; although prices tend to become standardised at high, "antiquarian" levels, bargains can still be had.
BRONSON, Bertrand, Traditional Tunes of the "Child" Ballads. Princeton University Press, 1959-1972.
The definitive collection of texts and melodies from manuscript and published sources. Scarce and expensive, but available in many libraries (and watch out for library sales!)
CHAPPELL, William, Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time. Vols 1-2. Dover. Pbk 1965.
As founder of the Musical Antiquarian Society, Chappell's interest and investigation into the
history of the songs, ballads and dance tunes of England, led to the publication of Popular Music
of the Olden Time between 1855-59.
CHILD, Prof. Francis J., English & Scottish Popular Ballads. Vols 1-5. Dover. Pbk 1965
The definitive work on ballads, including variants and investigations into source and background. Originally published in 1882-98, and still unsurpassed after more than a century.
NOTE: A new edition, the first in nearly 40 years, is now published by Loomis House Press; this incorporates Child's extensive Addenda and Corrigenda into the main body of the text. Prepared for publication by Mark and Laura Heiman, volumes 1 and 2 are now available in paperback and hardback, and can be bought via booksellers or direct from the publishers.
Further details from the publisher's website: http://www.loomishousepress.com/child/index.html
Vol I: ISBN 0-9707020-1-9
Vol II: ISBN 0-9707020-2-7
Vol III: ISBN 0-9707020-3-5
Vol IV: ISBN 0-9707020-5-1
Vol V: ISBN 0-9707020-6-X
Full Set: ISBN 0-9707020-7-8
HAMER, Fred, Garners Gay. English Folk Dance & Song Society
One of the many publications from the EFDSS sadly out of print. Fred Hamer recorded some wonderful
singers during the '60s most of whom had been missed before. This was all the more remarkable as Fred
was blind. An item to be treasured!
KINSLEY, James (ed), The Oxford Book of Ballads, Oxford University Press, 1969. Paperback edition 1982, 1989.
A new edition replacing the outdated Quiller-Couch collection of 1910. Kinsley has gone back to MS sources where possible, and includes 150 ballad texts, the majority with their tunes.
LLOYD, A.L., Come All Ye Bold Miners: Ballads and Songs of the Coalfields. Lawrence & Wishart, 1952; revised and expanded edition 1978.
Another definitive collection. Around 170 songs in the second edition, 76 with tunes.
LLOYD, A.L., Folk Song in England. Lawrence & Wishart, 1967 (Cloth). Panther Pbk 1969.
Not a collection of folk songs, though it includes texts and melodies for quite a few, Bert Lloyd's book was a landmark in the examination of
folk culture, bringing it alive and including many examples of traditional song as well as the new
forms of song from industrial society.
PURSLOW, Frank, MarrowBones (EFDSS 1965),
Wanton Seed (EFDSS 1968),
Constant Lovers (EFDSS 1972),
Foggy Dew (EFDSS 1974)
Frank Purslow's selections from the Hammond/Gardiner manuscripts are still sought after and provided
many a singer with a stream of material in the heyday of the early 70s. The earlier volumes are easier to find; The Foggy Dew seems to be almost unobtainable, as it was so poorly bound that most copies have disintegrated with use.
SIMPSON, CLAUDE M, The British Broadside Ballad and its Music, Rutgers University Press, 1966.
An extensive and valuable work on the tunes associated with broadside ballads, concentrating on the 16th-18th centuries and including some 540 melodies. A mine of information on the intimate relationship between "Popular" song and Folksong.
STUBBS, Ken, Life of a Man. English Folk Dance & Song Society
Another collection from the EFDSS imprint, now sadly out of print.
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, Ralph & LLOYD, A.L., Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. Penguin. Pbk 1975.
The book that launched a thousand folk singers and still one of the best selections to be found.
Planned for re-publication by EFDSS in the near future.
WILLIAMS, Alfred, Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames Duckworth, 1923.
A collection of song texts from the Upper Thames region made in the early 20th century. Williams intended to return for the tunes, but circumstances prevented this. A valuable resource nevertheless.
WOODS, Fred (ed), Oxford Book of Traditional Verse. O.U.P. Cloth 1983 (ISBN 019214597)
Sadly no tunes are included in what is otherwise an excellent collection with some unusual variants
and some very interesting items.
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