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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Canning, George(1770-1827) and John Hookham Frere(1769-1846)


George Canning, Tory statesman and Prime Minister (1827), was born in London. John Hookham Frere, an English diplomat and author, was a friend of Canning, also born in London. Their collaboration began at Eton, and they freely contributed to The Anti-Jacobin, a political periodical founded by Canning and edited by William Gifford (1756-1826), “The Loves of the Triangles”, a parody of Erasmus Darwin’s The Loves of the Plants (1789), and “The Needy Knife-Grinder”, among other works. “The Friend of Humanity and the Knife-grinder”, the full title of the last-mentioned work when it appeared in a periodical, is a parody of Robert Southey’s Sapphic verse, entitled “The Widow” (1797). In 1817 Frere published a mock-heroic Arthurian poem entitled Prospectus and Specimen of an Intended National Work, by William and Robert Whistlecraft, of Stowmarket in Suffolk, Harness and Collar Makers, relating to King Arthur and his Round Table. Byron borrowed from it the measure and idiom for his Beppo (1818) and Don Juan (1819-24) both in ottava rima. Frere is also a well-known translator of Aristophanes. (M. Y.)

1.The Friend of Humanity and the Knife-grinder