Mudcat Café message #3898926 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3898926
Posted By: Steve Gardham
11-Jan-18 - 04:00 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
Hi Howard,
These longer ballads of the 17th/18th centuries were definitely aimed at the rising middle class in the cities, people like tradesmen, apprentices, and people would buy them to read as well as sing. By about 1780 many of the longer ballads were being cut down drastically and being reprinted on slips to cater for the rising literacy among the poor. One excellent example that was being sung in its entirety was The Yarmouth Tragedy with 56 verses. When collected in oral tradition lots of versions were found, several with no verses in common with others because they were taken from different episodes in the seminal long ballad. I would put this down partly to oral tradition and partly to the process mentioned above.

'that implies that these long and unwieldy compositions were in fact popular.'(HJ) They were extremely popular, being printed and reprinted well into the 19thc in full, by the likes of John Pitts, but had gone out of favour by the time Catnach came on the scene.