Stories from the English and Scottish Ballads

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Stories from the English and Scottish Ballads
Author Ruth Manning-Sanders
Illustrator Trevor Ridley
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Ballads
Publisher E. P. Dutton (US)
Heinemann (UK)
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover)
Pages 148 pp

Stories from the English and Scottish Ballads is a 1968 anthology of 15 ballads that have been collected and retold in prose or fairy tale form by Ruth Manning-Sanders, for easier reading. It is one in a long series of anthologies by Manning-Sanders. Most, if not all, of the tales within are prose versions of the historically famous Child Ballads. In a lengthy introduction, Manning-Sanders writes:

"For the people of the Middle Ages, the ballads took the place of story books, and they were made by the minstrels who roamed the country, singing their stories and accompanying themselves on the harp. ... The stories that the minstrels sang were on familiar themes. Tender stories of love, stirring stories of well-known battles, of daring raids and captures and rescues, exhilarating stories of heroic resistance and of the doings of bold outlaws, tragic stories of treason and sad deaths, comic stories, cruel and terrible stories, stories of that fairyland in which most men believed -- we find them all, sung in direct, vigorous verse to the accompaniment of the minstrel's music."

As to why she retells the ballads in prose instead of verse, Manning-Sanders explains: "And finally it must be said how much is lost in the telling of these stories in prose. They were born in song, and their lyric quality is their greatest charm. ... But, as the ballads have been collected and set down in the dialect of the people who sang them, they are not, in their verse form, easy for children to read. ... And so we are now giving you these stories told in prose; in hope that, coming to know them and like them in this form, you may later on be led to read them for yourself in the original verse."

Table of contents[edit]

1. The Birth of Robin Hood
2. Robin Hood and Sir Richard at the Lee
3. Sir Richard at the Lee and the Abbot
4. Little John and the Sheriff of Nottingham
5. Robin Hood and the Monk
6. The Sheriff's Shooting Match
7. The Sheriff Complains to the King
8. The King and Robin Hood