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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Samuel Ferguson (1810-86)


Irish poet, writer of fiction and scholar, born and raised in Belfast and in Co. Antrim. He studied Irish at the Belfast Academical Institution and law at Lincoln’s Inn in London before enrolling at Trinity College, Dublin, in 1834. His poem celebrating labour and craftsmanship, ‘The Forging of the Anchor’, appeared in the Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in 1832. In 1834, he contributed to the Dublin University Magazine a series of four review articles on James Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy (1831), criticizing fanatical and malignant nationalism. Ferguson illustrated the ‘savage sincerity’ of the originals in literal prose versions, and then showed what he considered the characteristics of Irish poetry to be through his own verse translations. The impact of these researches into Gaelic verses was reflected in ‘The Fairy Thorn’, a poem about a changeling based on the traditions of the sídh, which appeared in the Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in 1834.

Elected President of the Royal Irish Academy, Ferguson labored tirelessly to raise the awareness of ancient Irish culture. His collections of poems include Lays of the Western Gael (1865), Congal (1872), Poems (1880), and The Forging of the Anchor (1883). (N. M.)

1.The Fairy Thorn
2.The Forester’s Complaint
3.The Forging of the Anchor
4.Willy Gilliland