Hot on the heels of Fayerie, another new book- this time, on the traditional British ballads and rhymes concerned with Faery. In the course of writing Fayerie, I made particular use of the early modern English and Scots ballads, songs such as Young Tamlane, Thomas Rhymer and the Elfin Knight, and realised that there was no one book which brought together all of those lyrics concerned just with the supernatural. Now there is.
Britain is rich in its heritage of traditional ballads, most of which date from the seventeenth century or earlier. Around twenty of these take fairies and fairyland as their primary theme. Accordingly, these songs are valuable sources of information on late medieval and early modern fairy beliefs. This new book provides an overview of fairy lore in the ballads, accompanied by edited texts for all the key lyrics, supplemented by notes that put each narrative in its wider context.
In addition, British traditional rhymes dealing with fairy-lore are collected together, along with a selection of verses and songs ascribed to the fairies themselves. We are all familiar with little couplets like ‘Fairy folks are in old oaks;’ these little catchphrases stick in our memories, quite deliberately, because they were designed to do just that: children in particular needed to be alerted to the places in the landscape where dangerous fairies lurked and punchy little verses did the trick. There are lots recorded but, once again, they have not before been collected together. The same is true of the subject of the third chapter of the new book; this features songs and poems composed by fairies themselves. Once again, bringing them together emphasises the degree to which verse is central to fairy discourse. These texts are often overlooked as a body of literature in their own right, but this book takes the opportunity to focus upon them and what they can tell us about human and faery society.
The book is a companion to my other volumes of fae poetry, ‘Victorian Fairy Verse‘ and ‘Fayerie- Fairies and Fairyland in Tudor and Stuart Verse.’ It reveals a world that is harsher than we might anticipate. The book is available as a paperback or e-book through Amazon/KDP.