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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John Leyden (1775-1811)


 

Born in September 1775 at Denholm, Roxburghshire, Scotland. Sir Walter Scott mourned the short but brilliant life of Leyden, but he is remembered not only as a Scottish Romantic poet, but also as an antiquarian, linguist, folk song collector, Orientalist, and medical doctor. He assisted Scott in Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1802-3), contributing to it some of his own ballads such as "Lord Soulis" and "The Mermaid", and a prose work 'Dissertation of Faery Superstition'. He also contributed another ballad "The Elfin-King" to M. G. Lewis's Tales of Wonder (1801). Most of his poems and ballads are collected in his posthumous publication Poems and Ballads (1858, 1875). Leyden's enthusiasm for heroic exploration and studying enchanting exotic cultures sent him off to India as an assistant surgeon in 1803. While he stayed in India and the Far East until his death in Java in 1811, he made no less a contribution to so-called Romantic Orientalism than did Sir William Jones (1746-94), with his wide range of studies in Indian and other Asian languages, myths, and folklore.    (Y. Y.)

1.The Cout of Keilder
2.The Elfin-King
3.The Lai of the Ettercap
4.Lord Soulis
5.The Mermaid