What people are saying - Write a review
American scholar, folklorist, and collector of ballads, Francis Child was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard University. After graduating from Harvard, he studied for a time in Europe and then returned to the United States to teach at Harvard, eventually becoming professor of English there. Motivated by an interest in folklore, Child put together at the Harvard Library one of the largest folklore collections in existence at the time. Though a scholar of the British poets, notably Edmund Spenser and Geoffrey Chaucer , Child is best known for his systematic study, collecting, and cataloging of folk ballads, particularly those of Scotland and England. He is noted for studying manuscript rather than printed versions of old ballads from these countries although he studied and investigated ballads and stories in other languages that were related to the Scottish and English ballads. Child's first important work was Four Old Plays (1848). A subsequent eight-volume collection called English and Scottish Ballads (1857-1858) eventually grew into his final and most ambitious collection, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898). The work contains 305 ballads, many of which come from manuscript sources, and with all known versions of each ballad. It remains the most authoritative work on old English and Scottish ballads and folk songs. Child's teaching and collecting provided an important impetus for other scholars to gather ballads in the United States and elsewhere.