Mrs. Brown of Falkland's Robin Hood Ballads and their Critical Reception

Stephen Basdeo

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    The earliest ballads of Robin Hood such as A Gest of Robyn Hode (c.1450) and Robin Hood and the Potter (c.1450) give no clue as to the manner of Robin Hood’s birth. This was still the case when Joseph Ritson published his influential ballad anthology entitled Robin Hood: A Collection of All the Ancient Poems, Songs, and Ballads (1795). Five years after Ritson, however, Robert Jamieson published Popular Ballads and Songs, from Tradition, Manuscripts, and Scarce Editions (1806). In that collection two new never-before-seen Robin Hood ballads appeared entitled The Birth of Robin Hood and The Wedding of Robin Hood and Little John. Jamieson had transcribed the ballads from Anna Gordon Brown of Falkland, Scotland. Although twentieth-century Robin Hood critics have derided Mrs. Brown’s ballads as being of little merit compared to earlier material, Mrs. Brown enjoyed a ‘literary afterlife’ in the tradition as Goody – the old woman who recites Robin Hood stories to dinner guests – in the first ever Robin Hood novel entitled Robin Hood: A Tale of the Olden Time (1819). Late-Victorian and Edwardian children’s books would also incorporate Brown’s origin stories into their plots, as can be seen in Paul Creswick’s Robin Hood and his Adventures (1917). Thus it is time that Brown’s literary afterlife and influence were examined. The proposed paper, therefore, is intended to fit into the panel ‘Women Collectors and Collected Women’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusUnpublished - 16 Sept 2016
    EventWomen's History Network Annual Conference - Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, United Kingdom
    Duration: 16 Sept 201617 Sept 2016

    Academic conference

    Academic conferenceWomen's History Network Annual Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • Ballads
    • Robin Hood
    • Medievalism
    • Outlaws
    • antiquarianism


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