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The Harris Transcript of old Scottish Ballads - bound volume with manuscript transcript of Scottish ballads

Identifier: Coll-1818

Content Description

This important bound volume with ms transcript of Scottish ballads had been in the ownership of Mr. Hilary Corke, a Lecturer at Edinburgh University, 1951-1955. It is one of two ms volumes known as the Harris Repertoire. Corke had 're-discovered' it in 1955. Much earlier it had been sought after by collectors Norval Clyne, the Aberdonian advocate, and by Francis James Child. It contains a book-plate with arms on the inside front-board - 'Hilary Corke'. On one of the early pages, at top, is written 'Capt. Forbes R.N., Seabank'.
Pasted in to the volume is a letter written by Amelia Harris, Newburgh, Fife, 12 November [1859], to Professor William Edmondstoune Aytoun, University of Edinburgh, postmarked 14 November 1859. The letter has become famous within ballad studies, for it not only presents the origin of the ballads known by Amelia and Jane Harris her sister, but offers solutions to how ballads might have been passed from the non-literate to the literate.
The volume includes: 'Sir Patrick Spens', 'Archerdale', 'There were three ladies', 'Charlie Macpherson', 'Fair Margaret', 'Wearies Wells', 'Brown Edom', and 'Robin', among many others.
The important discovery of this 'lost' manuscript was first made in print through the Scottish Text Society, in 1977, by Dr Emily Lyle of The School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh.
The other of the two ms volumes is in the USA, in the Houghton Library at Harvard.


  • 1850-1860



0.05 volume

Physical Location

The Harris Transcript of old Scottish Ballads - bound volume with ms transcript of Scottish ballads
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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