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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Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)



English Romantic Poet, born in Sussex, 4 August 1792.  Shelley was dismissed from the University of Oxford for circulating a pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism (1811).  He is known as a revolutionary who rebelled against society and called for liberty.  His representative poetical works include "Ode to the West Wind" (1819) and Prometheus Unbound (1820). 

Shelley’s literary ballad, "Sister Rosa: A Ballad", is inserted in St. Irvyne (1811), a Gothic-horror novel he wrote.  ‘St. Edmond’s Eve’, another of Shelley’s ballads, was included in the Original Poetry by Victor and Cazire (1810) published by Shelley and his sister Elizabeth.  But it gave rise to a scandalous discussion, because every single line seemed to be exactly the same as Matthew Gregory Lewis’s “The Black Canon of Elmham; or, Saint Edmond’s Eve” in his Tales of Terror(1801).  Shelley excused himself by saying that it was Elizabeth who inserted the piece, and asked the publisher to delete it.  It is generally understood that the poet, who was familiar with  Lewis’s works since he was a child, drew the piece as his own out of his stock of memory.  An additional fact is that in the Original Poetry there are several other poems imitated or stolen undoubtedly from the other contemporary poets.  Conclusively saying, it depends upon the editors whether the controversial piece should be included in Shelley’s collected poems.  (Cf. M. G. Lewis’s Suppl-1.)

His wife, Mary Shelley, was the daughter of the radical William Godwin (1756-1836), to whom Shelley was devoted, and she was the author of Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818). (M. I.)

1.The Devil’s Walk: A Ballad
2.The Fugitives
3.Ghasta, or, the Avenging Demon !!!
4.Sister Rosa: A Ballad
5.Saint Edmond’s Eve