Child's collection includes 305 groups of ballads, each of which is assigned a title. For example, the tenth group of ballads is titled "The Twa Sisters", and consists of songs (Child himself includes twenty-one variants) about a young woman who drowns her sister out of jealousy. In practice, songs from this group of ballads can be found under many titles, including "The Twa Sisters", "The Two Sisters", "The Cruel Sister", "Binnorie", and "The Mill-Dams of Binnorie". This can cause confusion.
This article will follow the convention of identifying Child ballads by the title attached to the given variant, followed by the number Child gave them. A reference to "The Cruel Sister", to continue this example, would appear as "The Cruel Sister (Child #10)". (A finer classification is sometimes used - 10a, 10b, 10c, etc. - but the simple numbering system will suffice for our purposes.) Note that variants of "The Twa Sisters" which were not known to Child, and did not appear in his collection, will still be designated "Child #10".
Return to Early Child Ballads.