Song Books

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General Antholgies

Books of folk songs can be comprehensive anthologies of songs from a region, from a country, or a nation. Three important ones published in the early part of the current revival are:

  • The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, A L Lloyd and Ralph Vaughan Williams, several editions from 1959 onwards, Penguin Books. Seventy songs selected from The Journal of the Folk-Song Society, with music, and the book most favoured by singers in the '60s revival as a source of songs.
    A revised edition, with more detailed notes, bibliography and information on the source singers, was published by EFDSS as Classic English Folk Songs in 2003, and can be bought from Web pages devoted to additions and corrections, with supporting material, can be seen at
  • The Singing Island, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, 1960, Mills Books. Another great favourite in the early revival. Mostly traditional songs, arranged by theme, and with music.
  • Folk Songs of Great 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.

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
  • The Rambling Soldier, Roy Palmer, 1977, Peacock Books
  • Songs and Music of The Redcoats (1642 - 1902), Lewis Winstock, 1970, Leo Cooper Ltd
  • One Hundred Songs of Toil, Karl Dallas, 1974, Wolfe
  • Shanties from the Seven Seas, Stan Hugill, 1961, Routledge & Kegan Paul


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.

  • Marrow Bones, The Wanton Seed, The Constant Lovers, and The Foggy Dew, Frank Purslow, 1965 to 1973, EFDS Publications Ltd. A series of books with a selection of songs from the collections of Henry and Robert Hammond and George Gardiner, who collected mainly in Dorset and Hampshire respectively, again in the early 1900s. The books were intended for relative newcomers to folk song and, as was usual until very recently in 'popular' anthologies, many of the song texts were edited and collated in order to produce good 'singing' versions.
    A new, augmented edition of Marrow Bones will be published by EFDSS in spring 2007, and a new edition of The Wanton Seed is planned for early 2008.