Fair Charlotte

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"Fair Charlotte"
Form Folk ballad

"Fair Charlotte" (or "Young Charlotte") (Laws G17)[1] is an American folk ballad.


The story is a cautionary tale concerning a young girl called Charlotte who refused to wrap up warmly to go on a sleigh ride to a New Year's ball. Upon arriving at the ball, her fiancé discovers that she has frozen to death during the journey.


The ballad of Fair Charlotte is based on a poem by Seba Smith that was first published in The Rover, a Maine newspaper, on December 28, 1843 under the title A Corpse Going To A Ball.[2] According to folklorist Phillips Barry, Smith's composition was based on an incident recounted in an 1840 New York Observer article of the same name.[3] A version of Smith's poem was subsequently set to music, leading to the creation of the ballad.

During the 20th century, a version of the ballad was sung by Almeda Riddle under the title Young Carlotta.[2]

See also[edit]

  • Springfield Mountain, another cautionary folk ballad situated in New England, about a boy who is bitten by a rattlesnake. The two ballads are often cited together as examples of narrative verse representative of obituary tradition.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Laws, G. Malcolm (1964). Native American Balladry: A Descriptive Study and a Bibliographic Syllabus. Philadelphia: The American Folklore Society. p. 221. ISBN 0-292-73500-6. 
  2. ^ a b Cohen, Norm: Folk Music: A Regional Exploration, p. 24-25 (America, 2005) ISBN 0-313-32872-2
  3. ^ Laws 1964, p. 221.