Popular Ballads in Eighteenth-Century Britain
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During the 18th century, as the traditional rights of peasants were being jettisoned to enforce a new system of enclosure, rural labourers expressed their concerns in songs of protest. There were also popular love songs, celebrating the free and easy sexuality of rural workers, and these too were rich in social meaning. This scholarly study of popular ballads offers a glimpse of an 18th-century world very different from that of polite poems and novels.