Allison Gross [Child 35]

DESCRIPTION: Allison Gross, a hideous witch, takes the singer prisoner and tries to induce him to love her. When he refuses, she turns him to a worm (with other sundry curses). He is at last freed by an elven queen
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1800 (Riewerts-BalladRepertoireOfAnnaGordon-MrsBrownOfFalkland); printed by Jamieson in 1806
KEYWORDS: magic witch shape-changing seduction curse
REFERENCES (10 citations):
Child 35, "Allison Gross" (1 text)
Riewerts-BalladRepertoireOfAnnaGordon-MrsBrownOfFalkland, pp. 206-209, "Allison Gross" (1 text, printed parallel to blank pages)
Leach-TheBalladBook, pp. 128-131, "Alison Gross" (1 text, with a Danish (?) text for comparison)
Quiller-Couch-OxfordBookOfBallads 12, "Alison Gross" (1 text)
Grigson-PenguinBookOfBallads 17, "Allison Gross" (1 text)
Buchan-ABookOfScottishBallads 5, "Allison Gross" (1 text)
Whitelaw-BookOfScottishBallads, pp. 461-462, "Alison Gross" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Robert Jamieson, Popular Ballads and Songs (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable and Co., 1806 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. II, pp. 187-190, "Alison Gross"
Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #419, "Allison Gross" (1 text)

Roud #3212
cf. "The Laily Worm and the Machrel of the Sea" [Child 36] (theme)
NOTES [162 words]: The name "Allison Gross" is an interesting one, because she is a hag in this song. According to Tauno F. Mustanoja, "The Suggestive Use of Christian Names in Middle English Poetry," in Jerome Mandel and Bruce A. Rosenberg, editors, Medieval Literature and Folklore Studies, Rutgers, 1970, p. 70, the name Allison in literature seems to have been used primarily for young and attractive women. He cites several examples, such as the pretty wife in Chaucer's Miller's Tale, and the once-attractive Wife of Bath herself, and the well-known love lyric "Alison."
However, Lowry Charles Wimberly, Folklore in the English and Scottish Ballads: Ghosts, Magic, Witches, Fairies, the Otherworld, 1928 (I use the 1965 Dover paperback edition), p, 212, claims that "The name 'Allison' is among the most common witch names"; he cites Murray, The Witch Cult in Western Europe.
We have not the data to be sure, but I suspect that the name has deeper significance than just a name. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.2
File: C035

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