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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Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)



Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1667. Dean of St Patrick's, Dublin, essayist, political pamphleteer, satirist and poet. Swift was a prolific writer, and can probably be called the greatest prose satirist in the English language. He is famous for works such asA Tale of a Tub (1704) and Gulliver's Travels (1726), having published almost all of his works under pseudonyms or anonymously. He also wrote the ironic 'Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift, D.S.P.D.', a satirical attack on the Irish Parliament 'The Legion Club', and many other poems.

He left for England in 1689, and became personal secretary to Sir William Temple, a retired diplomat, at Moor Park, where he met young Esther Johnson ('Stella'), who became a lifelong friend and crossed to Ireland on Swift's advice to live in Dublin. Though originally a supporter of the Whigs, he changed alliance to the Tories in 1710 and wrote for the party. In 1713, he became a founding member of the Scriblerus Club with Alexander Pope, John Arbuthnot, John Gay and William Congreve.

In 1714, he left for Dublin, accepting the Deanery of St Patrick's, where he stayed until his death on October 19, 1745. He was buried by Stella's side and his fortune was dedicated to founding St Patrick's Hospital for the mentally ill in accordance with his wishes. (N. M.)

1.A Ballad, on the Game of Traffick
2.A Ballad, to the Tune of, the Cut-purse
3.An Excellent New Ballad or, The True English Dean to Be Hanged for a Rape