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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Gerald Griffin (1803-40)


Irish playwright, novelist and poet, born in Limerick in 1803. In 1823 he left for London to become a dramatist. His first play, The Tragedy of Aguire (now lost), was rejected by William Macready, and Griffin lived in extreme poverty for a while. His only surviving play, Gisippus (1842), was posthumously produced by Macready at Drury Lane and gained success.

Impressed by Tales by the O’Hara Family (1825) written by his trustworthy friend John Banim, Griffin moved from drama to fiction, and produced a set of regional stories, Holland-Tide (1827). During that time, he began to live in Dublin, moving between there and London.

In 1829, he published a crime story, The Collegians, which draws on a murder committed in Irish Catholic society in his childhood. Later novels include The Rivals (1829), Tracy’s Ambition (1829), and The Duke of Monmouth (1836). He also produced further sets of stories: Tales of Munster Festivals (1827), Tales of My Neighbourhood (1835), and Talis Qualis, or Tales of the Jury Room (1842).

His poetry gained less success than his novels, though Tennyson intensely expressed his admiration for the well-known ballad, ‘Aileen Aroon’. (N. M.)

1.The Bridal of Malahide