The premier scholar of the English-language traditional or popular ballad, Francis James Child spent decades working on his widely read and performed collection, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. In this first single author monograph of Child's life and work, Mary Ellen Brown analyzes Child's editorial methods, his decisions about which ballads to include, and his relationships with colleagues at Harvard and abroad. Brown draws on his extensive correspondence with collaborators to trace the production of his monumental work from conception and selection through organization and collation of the ballads. Child's Unfinished Masterpiece shows readers what was at stake in Child's search for original manuscript materials housed at libraries and estates far afield and his desire to uncover unedited versions of previous editors' texts. In analyzing Child's letters, Brown also delves into his important network of collaborators, scholars, and friends such as William Macmath, Sven Grundtvig, James Russell Lowell, and Charles Eliot Norton, who influenced the organization and content of his work. Readers learn about the questions Child faced as an editor: whether the materials he gathered were authentic, whether a piece was more ballad or a song, or whether the text was sufficiently old or traditional. In showing Child's struggles with content and organization for The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Brown notes the difficulty in defining the ballad genre while also showing that a clear definition is not a fatal flaw of the volume or to scholars' continued study of it.
Mary Ellen Brown is a professor emerita of folklore, women's studies, and English (adjunct) at Indiana University Bloomington. Her previous publications include William Motherwell's Cultural Politics, 1797-1835 and Burns and Tradition.
Acknowledgments ix Prelude: The Project 1 1. The Man - Francis James Child 7 The English and Scottish Popular Ballads 2. The Description 71 3. The History of the Book - Child's Great Temptation 78 Child's Gallant Army of Auxiliaries 4. The Transatlantic Collaborators 159 5. William Macmath - Partner in the Ballad Cause 186 6. George Lyman Kittredge - Literary Executor Extraordinaire 213 Postlude: Child's Ballad Concept Redux 231 Appendix A. Wanted, Old Ballads 249 Appendix B. Invitation 251 Appendix C. Prospectus 258 Appendix D. Rejected Pieces 260 Bibliography 265 Index 275