Children in the Wood, The (The Babes in the Woods) [Laws Q34] --- Part 01
DESCRIPTION: Two young orphaned children are left in the care of their uncle. He decides to murder them for their money. One of the hired killers has pity and spares them, but then abandons them. They die. The uncle meets countless disasters till his crime is revealed
EARLIEST DATE: 1595? (title of piece in Stationer's Register)
KEYWORDS: orphan money death abandonment family children
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,Ro,SE,So) Britain(England) Australia Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (30 citations):
Laws Q34, "The Children in the Wood (The Babes in the Woods)"
Percy/Wheatley III, pp. 169-176, "The Children in the Wood" (1 text -- the long form)
Williams-Thames, p. 217, "Two Babes in the Wood" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 229)
Palmer-ECS, #56, "The Babes in the Wood" (1 text, 1 tune -- the short form)
Flanders-NewGreen, pp. 234-238, "The Children in the Wood" (1 text, 1 tune -- the long form)
Belden, pp. 106-107, "The Babes in the Wood" (2 texts -- the short form)
BrownII 147, "The Babes in the Wood" (1 text)
Morris, #215, "The Babes in the Wood" (2 texts, 1 tune; the "A" text is the long form, the "B" text and tune are the short)
Hudson 139, p. 285, "Babes in the Woods" (1 text -- the short form)
Scarborough-NegroFS, p. 57, (no title) (1 text, quite short, but it appears to be a fragment of the long form)
Carey-MarylandFolkLegends, p. 117, "Babes in the Woods" (1 text -- the short form)
Brewster 71, "Babes in the Wood" (1 text -- the short form)
Grimes, p. 144, "Babes in the Woods" (1 text -- the short form)
Gardner/Chickering 141, "The Babes in the Woods" (1 text -- the long form)
Randolph 92, "The Babes in the Woods" (5 texts, 2 tunes -- the short form)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 113-115, "The Babes in the Woods" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 92A)
JHCoxIIA, #22, pp. 89-90, "Babes in the Wood" (1 text, 1 tune -- perhaps a fragment of the long form)
SharpAp 47, "The Babes in the Wood" (1 text, 1 tune)
Meredith/Covell/Brown, p. 210, "(The Babes in the Wood)" (1 fragmentary text); pp. 295-296, "Babes in the Wood" (1 text+tune of the short form, plus an excerpt from the long form)
Creighton-SNewBrunswick 87, "Babes in the Wood" (1 short text, 1 tune; although only a fragment, it is clearly derived from the long form)
OBB 174, "The Children in the Wood" (1 text -- the long form)
Abrahams/Foss, pp. 121-122, ""The Babes in the Woods (1 text, 1 tune -- the short form)
LPound-ABS, 115, pp. 233-234, "Babes in the Woods" (1 text -- the short form)
Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 285-286, "Babes in the Woods" (1 text, 1 tune -- the short form)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #226, pp. 148-149, "(My dear, do you know)" (the short form)
BBI, ZN1966, "Now ponder well you parents dear"
cf. Chappell/Wooldridge I, p. 92, "[The Two Children in the Wood]" (1 tune)
DT 542, BABWOOD2* PRETBABE*
ADDITIONAL: Iona & Peter Opie, The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse, pp. 42-46, "The Babes in the Wood" (1 text -- the long form)
Katherine Briggs, _A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language_, Part A: Folk Narratives, 1970 (I use the 1971 Routledge paperback that combines volumes A.1 and A.2), volume A.2, pp. 390-391, "The Children in the Wood" (a short prose summary of the long form, with the father of the children being "A gentleman of Norfolk")
Dorothy Howard, "Babes in the Wood" (on USWarnerColl01 -- the short form)
Bodleian, Harding B 4(30), "The Children in the Wood" or "The Norfolk Gentleman's Last Will and Testament," W. and C. Dicey (London), 1736-1763; also Harding B 4(31), Harding B 4(34), Harding B 4(36), Johnson Ballads 2400, Harding B 30(2), Harding B 4(35), Harding B 4(37), Harding B 4(38), "The Children in the Wood" or "The Norfolk Gentleman's Last Will and Testament"
cf. "Dunbar the Murderer" (plot)
cf. "Three Lost Babes of Americay" (plot)
cf. "The Lost Babes" (plot)
NOTES: Laws notes, "A three stanza lament on the fate of the children called 'The Babes in the Wood' is widely known in American tradition, but the long ballad is rarely met with." At first glance these two songs are hardly related (they don't even use the same metrical form), but Laws seems to want them lumped. Though we note that he lists only occurrences of the long form. But splitting seems inappropriate in the circumstances.
According to Waring, p. 14, "Interestingly enough, stage people believe that Robin Hood and The Babes in the Wood are ill-omened pantomimes, while Cinderella promises nothing but good.
Hales believes this piece to be by the same author as "The Lady's Fall." - RBW
The Creighton-SNewBrunswick 87 is clearly a fragment of the Bodleian broadside version. - BS
The history and content of this song have inspired extensive discussion over the course of several centuries. It raises many difficult questions, both as to history and as to purpose. The result is a very long entry. I have therefore broken it up into the following sections, divided among four different entries in the Ballad Index. which you can search for if you don't want to read the whole thing. These aren't really chapters; the note is meant to be read continuously. But it may help you to find the part you most want. The larger part of this note is about the actions of Richard III and his usurpation of the English throne. You don't need to know all about that to be able to understand the part at the end about "The Legend of the Princes and the Content of the Song." You merely need to know that there is much debate about Richard III, and that Shakespeare's picture is impossibly one-sided. The great question is whether it is *completely* one-sided....
*** Included in this entry:*
* Full References for the song
*** Included in the Entry "Children in the Wood, The (The Babes in the Woods) [Laws Q34]" --- Part 02 (File Number Link LQ34A):*
* Speculations about the Origin of the Song
* The Historical Problem: The Black Legend of Richard III
* The Historical Sources
* Richard's Rediscovered Body
* The Background: The Wars of the Roses
*** Included in the Entry "Children in the Wood, The (The Babes in the Woods) [Laws Q34]" --- Part 03 (File Number Link LQ34B):*
* The Death of Edward IV and the Government of the Realm
* The Character of Richard III
*** Included in the Entry "Children in the Wood, The (The Babes in the Woods) [Laws Q34]" --- Part 04 (File Number Link LQ34C):*
* The Usurpation
* The Unknown Fate of the Princes
*** Included in the Entry "Children in the Wood, The (The Babes in the Woods) [Laws Q34]" --- Part 05 (File Number Link LQ34D):*
* Richard's Government and Tudor Government
* The Battle of Bosworth and the Death of Richard III
* The Legend of the Princes and the Content of the Song
Note on the Bibliography:
In my previous version of this article (the third), I gave a detailed annotated bibliography, trying to cite all the prejudices of each author. In an attempt to shorten things, I have now reduced this to two ratings: Pro-Richardness (on a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being Shakespeare, who can see no good in Richard, and 10 being Markham, who made him a saint. I have not cited any "10" sources). I would consider sources in the 3 to 7 range to be rational, with the truth most likely at 6 and the next most likely position being 3. A book with a 1, 2, 8, or 9 shows research but much influence by emotion; a book which is a 0 or a 10 is pure emotion with little use for facts. The level of research I have rated Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, Lousy (or variations upon that description). These ratings refer *only* to the material on Richard. I have omitted the ratings for books which are not directly concerned with Richard.
For what it's worth, the average Pro-Richardness of the 27 books I rated when I first instituted the system is almost exactly 4; the quality of research just a hair below "fair." There is effectively no correlation between pro-Richardness and research quality -- the correlation coefficient between the two is only .23. What is noteworthy is that I rated 9 books good or excellent in research, and seven of them have pro-Richardnesses in the 3-6 range; the other two are Hicks (2) and Kendall (8). No one with an extreme pro- or anti-Richard value has better than "fair" research.
Of the early sources, More, Rous, Hall, and Shakespeare would rate a 0, Vergil a 1, Croyland and Mancini about a 3 in Pro-Richardness.
Last updated in version 3.8
- Alexander: Marc Alexander, A Companion to the Folklore, Myths & Customs of Britain, Sutton Publishing, 2002
- Anderson: George K. Anderson, Old and Middle English Literature from the Beginnings to 1485 (Volume I of A History of English Literature), Oxford, 1950 (I use the 1962 Collier edition)
- Arthurson: Ian Arthurson, The Perkin Warbeck Conspiracy: 1491-1499, 1994 (I use the 1997 Sutton paperback edition)
- Ashdown-Hill: John Ashdown-Hill, Eleanor, the Secret Queen: The Woman who put Richard III on the Throne, 2009 (I use the 2010 History Press paperback)
- AshleyM: Mike Ashley, British Kings and Queens, Barnes & Noble, 2000 (originally published as The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens, 1998). Pro-Richardness: 4. Research: Fair.
- Ashley-GB: Maurice Ashley, Great Britain to 1688, University of Michigan Press, 1961. Pro-Richardness: 1. Research: Fair.
- Bainton: Roland H. Bainton, The Reformation of the sixteenth century, Beacon Press, 1952 (I use the 1959 paperback edition)
- BarkerEtAl: Nicolas Barker and others, Treasures of the British Library, Harry N, Abrams, 1988\
- Bennett: Michael Bennett, The Battle of Bosworth, St. Martin's Press, 1985
- Briggs: Katherine Briggs, A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language, Part A: Folk Narratives, 1970 (I use the 1971 Routledge paperback that combines volumes A.1 and A.2)
- Burne: A. H. Burne, The Battlefields of England (a compilation of two volumes from the 1950s, Battlefields of England and More Battlefields of England, with a new introduction by Robert Hardy), Pen & Sword, 2005.
- Cheetham: Anthony Cheetham, The Life and Times of Richard III (with introduction by Antonia Fraser), George Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1972 (I used the 1995 Shooting Star Press edition). Pro-Richardness: 6. Research: Fair.
- Chrimes: S. B. Chrimes, Henry VII, a volume in the English Monarchs series, University of California Press, 1972
- Cunningham: Sean Cunningham: Richard III: A Royal Enigma, [English] National Archives, 2003. Pro-Richardness: 4. Research: Good.
- Davis: John Paul Davis, The Gothic King: A Biography of Henry III, Peter Owen, 2013
- de Lisle: Leanda de Lisle, Katherine Grey: Heir to Elizabeth, article in History Today magazine, September, 2009
- Dockray: Keith Dockray, Edward IV: A Source Book, Sutton, 1999. Pro-Richardness: 5. Research: Good.
- Earle: Peter Earle, The Life and Times of Henry V, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1972.
- Fields: Bertram Fields, Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes, ReganBooks, 1998. Pro-Richardness: 9. Research: Fair.
- Fraser: Antonia Frasier, Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration , Delta, 1979 (originally titled King Charles II and published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson).
- Garnett and Gosse: Richard Garnett and Edmund Gosse, English Literature: An Illustrated Record four volumes, MacMillan, 1903-1904 (I used the 1935 edition published in two volumes)
- Gillingham: John Gillingham, The Wars of the Roses, Louisiana State University,1981. Pro-Richardness: 3. Research: Fair.
- Griffiths/Thomas: Ralph A. Griffiths and Roger S. Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty, Alan Sutton, 1985
- Halliday: F. E. Halliday, A Concise History of England: From Stonehenge to the Atomic Age, 1964, 1980; I use the 1986 Thames and Hudson paperback edition. Pro-Richardness: 3. Research: Poor.
- HarveyJ: John Harvey, The Plantagenets 1959 (I used the 1979 Fontana edition).Pro-Richardness: 6. Research: Good.
- HarveyN: Nancy Lenz Harvey, Elizabeth of York: The Mother of Henry VIII, Macmillan, 1973. Pro-Richardness: 2. Research: Appalling.
- Hicks: Michael Hicks, Edward V: The Prince in the Tower, Tempus, 2003. Pro-Richardness: 2. Research: Good.
- Jenkins: Elizabeth Jenkins, The Princes in the Tower, Coward McCann, & Geoghan, 1978. Pro-Richardness: 5. Research: Poor.
- Keegan/Wheatcroft: John Keegan and Andrew Wheatcroft, Who's Who in Military History from 1453, 1976, 1987 (I use the 1991 Promotional Reprint Company edition).
- Kendall: Paul Murray Kendall, Richard the Third (1955, 1956). Pro-Richardness: 8. Research: Good.
- Kenyon/Adams: Sir Frederic Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, revised by A. W. Adams, Harper, 1958
- Kerr: Nigel and Mary Kerr, A Guide to Medieval Sites in Britain, Diamond Books, 1988
- Kunitz/Haycraft: Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft, Editors, British Authors Before 1800: A Biographical Dictionary, H. W. Wilson, 1952 (I use the fourth printing of 1965)
- Lamb: V. B. Lamb, The Betrayal of Richard III: An Introduction to the Controversy, 1959; new introduction and notes 1990 by P. W. Hammond (I use the 1997 paperback edition). Pro-Richardness: 9. Research: Poor.
- Lander: J. R. Lander, The Wars of the Roses, 1965; revised edition 1990 (I use the 1997 Grange edition). Pro-Richardness: 3. Research: Good
- Langley/Jones: Philippa Langley and Michael Jones, The Search for Richard III: The King's Grave, John Murray, 2013 (I use the 2014 paperback edition)
- Laynesmith: J. L. Laynesmith, The Last Medieval Queens: English Queenship 1445-1503, Oxford, 2004 (I use the 2005 paperback edition)
- Lofts: Norah Lofts, Anne Boleyn, Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1979
- Lyon: Ann Lyon, Constitutional History of the United Kingdom, Cavendish, 2003
- Magnusson: Magnus Magnusson, Scotland: The Story of a Nation, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000
- Mattingly: Garrett Mattingly, Catherine of Aragon, 1941 (I use the 1990 Book-of-the-Month club edition)
- Mirsky: Jeannette Mirsky, To the Arctic: The Story of Northern Exploration from the Earliest Times to the Present, revised edition, Knopf, 1948
- Morris: Christopher Morris, The Tudors, 1955 (I used the 1981 Fontana edition).
- O hOgain: Daithi O hOgain, The Lore of Ireland, Boydell Press, 2006
- Opie/Tatem: Iona Opie and Moira Tatem, editors, A Dictionary of Superstitions, 1989 (I use the 1999 Barnes & Noble edition)
- OxfordCompanion: John Cannon, editor, The Oxford Companion to British History, Oxford, 1997. Pro-Richardness: 4. Research: Good.
- Perroy: Edouard Perroy, The Hundred Years War (French edition published 1945; English translation by W. B. Wells, with an introduction by David C. Douglas, printed by Capricorn 1965).
- Pollard: A. J. Pollard, Richard III and the Princes in the Tower, 1991 (I use the 1997 Bramley Books edition) . Pro-Richardness: 3. Research: Good.
- Poole: Stanley B. R. Poole, Royal Mysteries and Pretenders, Barnes & Noble, 1993. Pro-Richardness: 3. Research: Poor.
- Potter: Jeremy Potter, Good King Richard? An Account of Richard III and His Reputation, 1983 (I use the 1989 Constable edition). Pro-Richardness: 9. Research: Fair.
- Prestwich: Michael Prestwich, The Three Edwards: War and State in England, 1272-1377, 1980; I use the 2001 Routledge paperback edition.
- RicardianXIII: The Ricardian: Journal of the Richard III Society, Volume XIII (edited by Livia Visser-Fuchs), Richard III Society, 2003
- Ross: Charles Ross, Richard III, University of California Press, 1981. Pro-Richardness: 3. Research: Excellent.
- Ross-Edward: Charles Ross, Edward IV, 1974 (I use the 1997 paperback edition in the Yale English Monarch series with a new introduction by R. A. Griffiths)
- Ross-Wars, Charles Ross, The Wars of the Roses: A Concise History, Thames and Hudson, 1976.
- Rubin: Miri Rubin, The Hollow Crown: A History of Britain in the Late Middle Ages, Penguin, 2005. Pro-Richardness: 3. Research: Lousy.
- Russell: Conrad Russell, The Crisis of Parliaments: English History 1509-1660, Oxford, 1971
- Rylands: [no author listed], The John Rylands Library, Manchester: Catalogue of an Exhibition Illustrating the History of the Transmission of the Bible in commemoration of the400th Anniversary of the Publication of Coverdale's Bible, in October, 1535, Manchester University Press, 1935,
- Saul3: Nigel Saul, The Three Richards: Richard I, Richard II and Richard III, Hambledon & London, 2005. Pro-Richardness: 3. Research: Fair.
- SaulII: Nigel Saul, Richard II (part of the Yale English Monarchs series), Yale, 1997.
- Scarisbrick: J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, University of California Press, 1968
- Seward-Hundred: Desmond Seward, The Hundred Years War: The English in France, 1337-1453, 1978 (I used the 1982 Atheneum edition)
- Seward-Richard: Desmond Seward, Richard III: England's Black Legend, 1983; I use the 1984 Franklin Watts edition. Pro-Richardness: 0. Research: Poor.
- Seward-Roses: Desmond Seward, The Wars of the Roses, 1995.
- St. Aubyn: Giles St. Aubyn, The Year of Three Kings: 1483, 1983. Pro-Richardness: 2. Research: Poor.
- Steinberg/Trevitt: S. H. Steinberg, Five Hundred Years of Printing, 1955; new edition revised by John Trevitt, The British Library/Oak Knoll Press, 1996
- Waring: Philippa Waring, A Dictionary of Omens and Superstitions, 1978 (I use the 1997 Souvenir Press paperback)
- Warren-Henry: W. L. Warren, Henry II, University of California Press, 1973; I use the 1977 paperback edition.
- Warren-John: W. L. Warren, King John, University of California Press, 1961, 1978.
- Weir: Alison Weir, The Princes in the Tower, Ballantine, 1992. Pro-Richardness: 0. Research: Lousy.
- WilliamsonA: Audrey Williamson, The Mystery of the Princes, 1978, 1981 (I use the 1987 Alan Sutton paperback edition). Pro-Richardness: 8. Research: Fair
- Wilkinson: B. Wilkinson, The Later Middle Ages in England, 1216-1485, Longmans, 1969 (I use the 1980 paperback edition). Pro-Richardness: 2. Research: Fair.
- WilliamsonJ: James A. Williamson, The Tudor Age, 1953, 1957, 1964; I use the slightly revised 1979 Longman paperback edition. Pro-Richardness: 2. Research: Fair
- Willson: David Harris Willson, A History of England, Holt Rinehart Winston, 1967
- Wolffe: Bertram Wolffe, Henry VI, 1981 (I use the 2001 paperback edition in the Yale English Monarch series with a new introduction by John L. Watts)
- Young/Adair: Peter Young & John Adair, Hastings to Culloden: Battles of Britain, 1964, 1979; third edition published by Sutton Publishing, 1996
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