Welcome to The British Literary Ballads Archive, a site dedicated to a unique genre of literary imitations of traditional ballads. The site contains a growing archive of over 700 poems, as well as short biographical sketches of the poets who wrote them.

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Thomas Chatterton (1752-70)



English poet, born in Bristol, 20 November 1752. He entered Colston’s Charity which was a bluecoat school, but the students of the school were taught only reading, writing and doctrine. As many of his father’s family were sextons and his father was an amateur antiquary, he visited the muniment room in St Mary Redcliffe Church to read some ancient materials. When he was 16, he created some poems taking advantage of medieval letters, spelling, and style under the name of Thomas Rowley. The pseudonym Thomas Rowley designates an imaginary monk in the 15th century. These poems caused controversy about authorship. In 1770 he moved to London, but he was impoverished, and killed himself by arsenic at the age of 18. Poems supposed to have been written at Bristol by Thomas Rowley and others, in the Fifteenth Century (1777) was posthumously published.

Chatterton’s precociously-gifted works and his miserable end affected some English Romantic Poets. Many works about Chatterton have been created: Coleridge’s “A Monody on the Death of Chatterton”, and Keat’s sonnet “To Chatterton” are among them.

Chatterton’s ballad “Bristowe Tragedie: or the Dethe of Syr Charles Bawdin” on the Wars of the Roses depicts medieval history most effectively through the use of an exact ballad stanza and antique spelling. (M. I.)

1.Bristowe Tragedie: or the Dethe of Syr Charles Bawdin
2.An Excelente Balade of Charitie