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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David Mallet (?1705-65)


 
Scottish poet and playwright, who changed his name from the Scottish "Malloch" to the English "Mallet". He wrote The Excursion (1728, a poem) and Life of Francis Bacon (1740), and co-wrote, with his friend James Thomson (1700-48),Alfred (1740, a masque), but is most remembered for his early ballad "Margaret's Ghost" (better known as "William and Margaret"). It was written in 1723, and enjoyed tremendous popularity when published anonymously in The Plain Dealerthe following year, later being included in the third volume of Thomas Percy's Reliques (1765), in which Percy speaks of Mallet's work as 'one of the most beautiful ballads in our own or any other language'. George Saintsbury points out the significance of the piece in the history of English poetry, concluding that '[no] single copy of verses deserve[s] so much credit for setting the eighteenth century back on the road of true romantic poetry by an easy path, suited to its own tastes and powers.' [Cambridge History of English Literature, ed. A. W. Ward and A. R. Waller (1912; Cambridge, 1932) 9: 185-86] (M. Y.)

1.Edwin and Emma
2.Margaret's Ghost