Song Books

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General Anthologies

Books of folk songs can be comprehensive anthologies of songs from a region, from a country, or a nation.

The Cecil Sharp Collection of folk song books at the International Music Score Library Project can be accessed here[1]

George Butterworth (1912) ''Folk Songs from Sussex''

  • I'm A Freeborn Man, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, 1968, Oak Publications, New York. Tells the story of the eight Radio Ballads (1957 - 1964) commissioned by the BBC. This book contains the story of the original radio ballads, songs taken from some of the ballads and other contemporary songs of struggle and conscience.

  • Till Doomsday in the Afternoon, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, 1986, Manchester University Press. The result of 20 years of following the fortunes of the Stewarts of Blairgowrie, a family of Scots Travellers. An enormous treasury of tales, jokes, riddles, children's songs and and the words and music of some seventy songs.

  • Folk Songs of Britain and Ireland, Peter Kennedy, 1975, Cassell. Again the songs are arranged by theme, largely using versions collected by Kennedy himself. Has music, and copious notes on each song, with useful references to other versions.

  • Songs of the Midlands, Roy Palmer, EP Publishing, 1972. A collection of 70 traditional songs from the counties of Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire

Specific Subjects

  • Come All you Bold Miners, A. L. Lloyd, second edition 1978, Laurence and Wishart

  • A Taste of Ale, Roy Palmer, 2000, Green Branch, Lechlade

  • A Touch on the Times, Songs of Social Change 1770- 1914 Edited by Roy Palmer, Penguin Education 1974

  • The Rambling Soldier, Roy Palmer, 1977, Peacock Books

  • Songs and Music of The Redcoats (1642 - 1902), Lewis Winstock, 1970, Leo Cooper Ltd

  • The Cruel Wars, 100 Soldiers Songs from Agincourt to Ulster Karl Dallas, 1974, Wolfe

  • Shanties from the Seven Seas, Stan Hugill, 1961, Routledge & Kegan Paul

  • Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield, 1933, Memorial University of Newfoundland

  • The Oxford Book of Sea Songs, Roy Palmer, 1986, Oxford University Press

  • Boxing The Compass - Sea Songs and Shanties - Roy Palmer, 2001, Herron Publishing (Previously The Oxford Book of Sea Songs - now expanded)


Books which concentrate on the songs collected by one or two collectors.

  • Cecil Sharp's Collection of English Folk Songs, Maud Karpeles, 1974, Oxford University Press. About two-thirds of the songs and tunes collected in England in the early 1900s by the most prolific collector, mostly in their original forms, though not invariably accurately or completely transcribed by Dr Karpeles. In two volumes, but difficult to find except through university libraries and 'antiquarian' book dealers.

  • The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection, Pat Shuldham-Shaw, Emily B Lyle and others, 1981-2002, Aberdeen University Press and Mercat Press. The entire collection of the two Scots collectors Gavin Greig and John Duncan, who worked in Aberdeenshire at the same time as Sharp and his contemporaries were collecting mainly in the south and east of England. Eight volumes: numbers 2, 4, 7 and 8 of which can still be got from the publishers.

  • EFDSS also published two books from the collecting of Fred Hamer and one from the collecting of Ken Stubbs. These were Garners Gay: English Folk songs collected by Fred Hamer (1967): The Life of a Man: English Folk Songs from the Home Counties collected by Ken Stubbs (1970); and Green Groves: More English Folk Songs collected by Fred Hamer (1973).

  • Folk Songs collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Roy Palmer, 1983, J M Dent.

  • Bushes and Briars, Folk Songs collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Roy Palmer, 1999, Llanerch Press (Reprint of "Folk Songs collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams" 1983, but with corrections):