Abstract

Francis James Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882–1898) is one of the few nineteenth-century "classic" texts of folklore scholarship to remain in print. In fact, there are more versions available now than ever before: the Dover paperback edition, the first volumes of the reconfigured edition by Loomis House, and the digital Child from Heritage Muse™. These publications suggest a continued and resurgent interest in the ballad. To call something a Child ballad still has considerable cachet. This article seeks to begin answering questions about how Child was able to put together a work of scholarship that remains not only useful but also timely, in spite of more than a hundred years of critique and disciplinary shift. How did he work? How did he acquire so much information? I suggest that he was aided at every step by an incredible, loose-knit epistolary network of academicians, local scholars, interested amateurs, and friends—in North America and abroad. His correspondents not only supported his work, found texts and manuscripts, and collected, but also provided historical and comparative materials for the extensive headnotes. In all, he had several hundred correspondents. Here I focus on a selection of his Harvard epistolary helpers—Charles Eliot Norton, James Russell Lowell, and George Lyman Kittredge—and a trio of the many Scots who were enormously active in aiding him—-Noval Clyne, John Francis Campbell, and William Macmath—to begin suggesting the richness of the epistolary process of the making of Child's ballads.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0413
Print ISSN
0737-7037
Pages
pp. 89-108
Launched on MUSE
2006-10-10
Open Access
No
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