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Broadside ballad entitled 'Highland Mary'


The text preceeding this ballad begins: 'The "Castle of Montgomery" referred to in this beautiful effusion was that of Collsfield, near Tarbolton.' The ballad itself begins: 'Ye banks and braes and streams around / The Castle o' Montgomery'. A nicely executed woodcut representing a rather well-dressed Highland Mary decorates the top of the sheet.

'Highland Mary', or Mary Campbell, was one of Robert Burns's (1759-96) great loves, and he wrote this poem for her in 1792. The introduction to the poem, written, presumably, by the broadside publisher, is of interest because it puts it in context. It tells the tragic tale of how Burns and Mary were cruelly parted by her untimely death from typhus in 1786.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

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Probable period of publication: 1880-1900   shelfmark: RB.m.143(029)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Highland Mary'
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