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.

FacebookTwitterGoogle Bookmarks

Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775-1818)



English poet and novelist, born in London, 9 July 1775. He was educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford. During the school vacations he visited France and Germany to acquire language skills, and in Germany he met with Goethe and Wieland. He absorbed knowledge as to German “horror-romanticism” and adopted it in English Literature earnestly. In 1796 he published his first Gothic novel, The Monk, influenced by German literature. This novel of incest and murder made him famous, and he was called “Monk” Lewis.

In 1801 he published two sets of poems, Tales of Wonder and Tales of Terror. They include some translations of German works such as Goethe’s “Fisher,” some ballads translated from runes, English traditional ballads, and some poems by Scott, Southey, Leyden, and other poets. These works spread the boom of Gothic horror, and influenced Romantic poets such as Coleridge, Byron and Shelley.

Lewis’s Gothic ballad “Alonzo the Brave and Fair Imogine”, inserted in his novel The Monk and also in Tales of Wonder, adopted a familiar technique of incorporeal revenant in the traditional ballad, but the badly decayed body of his ghost is different from the traditional ghost, and shows his originality in his grotesque description. (M. I.)

 

1.Alonzo the Brave and Fair Imogine
2.Bill Jones, a Tale of Wonder
3.The Bleeding Nun
4.Bothwell’s Bonny Jane
5.The Cloud-King
6.Couteous King Jamie
7.Crazy Jane
8.Durandarte and Belerma
9.Elver’s Hoh
10.The Erl King’s Daughter
11.The Fire King
12.The Fisherman
13.The Gay Gold Ring
14.Giles Jollup the Grave, and Brown Sally Green
15.The Gipsy’s Song
16.The Grim White Woman
17.King Hacho’s Death Song
18.Osric the Lion
19.The Princess and the Slave
20.The Sailor’s Tale
21.Sir Agilthorn
22.Sir Guy, the Seeker
23.Sir Hengist
24.The Soldier’s Grave
25.The Sword of Angantyr
26.The Water-King
Suppl-1.   The Black Canon of Elmham; or, Saint Edmond’s Eve