Part of the appeal of ballads and balladry is the nostalgic links back to the misty past. What, then, could be more appropriate than a gift to the Whittaker Library of a collection of ballad books, with its own collection history? Folk singer Pete Coe facilitated this donation, from the daughter of the late Eric Cowell. Whilst you may not have heard of Eric Cowell before, he was in fact the great-nephew of one of the last great Victorian antiquarians, Frank Kidson. In fact, Eric's wife Ray did some research into Frank Kidson's life, which you can read here: The Search for Five-Finger Frank.
We don't know much about Eric Cowell himself, but his memory will live on in the Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Some of his books are very special indeed, and all will be made very welcome by our staff and students of English, Scottish and Border ballads. They include Motherwell's original collection and a late Victorian reprint of the infamous Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway song by R H Cromek.
There is the sense of the wheel coming full circle when one considers that Eric might just have discussed some of these very texts with his great-uncle Frank!