Exploring everything from local superstitions and ghost stories to annual customs, this is an enchanting guide to the ancient legends and deep-rooted beliefs that can be found the length and breadth of the city.
A fascinating guide to the richness of our heritage and the sometimes eccentric nature of life in England, The English Year offers a unique chronological view of our social customs and attitudes
This magical new collection brings together all the classic folk songs as well as many lesser-known discoveries, complete with music and annotations on their original sources and meaning. Published in cooperation with the English Folk Dance and Song Society, it is a worthy successor to Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L.Lloyd's original Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.
'Her keen eye did glitter like the bright stars by night
The robe she was wearing was costly and white
Her bare neck was shaded with her long raven hair
And they called her pretty Susan, the pride of Kildare'
In association with EFDSS, the English Folk Dance and Song Society
But after over a century of collection and discussion, publication and performance, there are still many things we don't know about traditional song - Where did the songs come from? Who sang them, where, when and why? What part did singing play in the lives of the communities in which the songs thrived? More importantly, have the pioneer collectors' restricted definitions and narrow focus hindered or helped our understanding?
This is the first book for many years to investigate the wider social history of traditional song in England, and draws on a wide range of sources to answer these questions and many more.
Each generation, it emerges, has had its own favourites - hoops and tops in the 1930s, clapping games more recently. Some pastimes, such as skipping, have proved remarkably resilient, their complicated rules carefully handed down from one class to the next. Many are now the stuff of distant memory. And some traditions have proved to be strongly regional, loved by children in one part of the country, unknown to those elsewhere. All are brilliantly and meticulously recorded by Steve Roud, who has drawn on interviews with hundreds of people aged from 8 to 80 to create a fascinating picture of all our childhoods.
Starting in the sixteenth century, but at its chaotic and flamboyant peak in the nineteenth, street literature was on sale everywhere – in urban streets and alleyways, at country fairs and markets, at major sporting events and holiday gatherings, and under the gallows at public executions. For this very reason, it was often despised and denigrated by the educated classes, but remained enduringly popular with the ordinary people.
Anything and everything was grist to the printers’ mill, if it would sell. A penny could buy you a celebrity scandal, a report of a gruesome murder, the last dying speech of a condemned criminal, wonder tales, riddles and conundrums, a moral tale of religious danger and redemption, a comic tale of drunken husbands and shrewish wives, a temperance tract or an ode to beer, a satire on dandies, an alphabet or “reed-a-ma-daisy” (reading made easy) to teach your children, an illustrated chapbook of nursery rhymes, or the adventures of Robin Hood and Jack the Giant Killer.
Street literature long held its own by catering directly for the ordinary people, at a price they could afford, but, by the end of the Victorian era, it was in terminal decline and was rapidly being replaced by a host of new printed materials in the shape of cheap newspapers and magazines, penny dreadful novels, music hall songbooks, and so on, all aimed squarely at the burgeoning mass market.
Fascinating today for the unique light it shines on the lives of the ordinary people of the age, street literature has long been neglected as a historical resource, and this collection of essays is the first general book on the trade for over forty years.
Their content was as broad as can be imagined: news and scandal, crimes and last-dying confessions of murderers, divinations, instructional works, wonder stories, miracles, folktales and legends, love stories, celebrations of national victories and lamentations for the good old days. They were often couched in the form of poetry or song, and included pictures in the form of woodcuts and engravings to add to their appeal.
In every country across Europe, governments and local and religious authorities tried at times to suppress or control these cheap printed materials. Sometimes, too, the authorities would adopt the format of cheap print to spread their own moral and conformist messages. The educated elites almost always treated cheap print with disdain, but the people continued to buy these items in their tens of thousands, and the printers knew exactly what they wanted.
Neglected and reviled for centuries, cheap print shines a light on the culture and lives of ordinary people. This is the first volume to take a pan-European perspective, with each chapter detailing the experience of a particular country or region, offering the reader the opportunity to progress from the particular to a continent-wide overview. This combination of the ubiquity of the materials and overarching themes with the variations wrought by local circumstances can be summed up in the phrase always the same, but everywhere different.