In 1959 EFDSS published The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, edited by
Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L. Lloyd. This book had a deep impact on
the English folk revival and 50 years later it seemed time to commission
a New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs; edited by two leading experts
and enthusiasts in the field, Steve Roud and Julia Bishop, and in
cooperation with the English Folk Dance and Song Society, which has
since its origins in the 1890s, been at the heart of the recording and
celebration of these songs.
The book consists of a broad selection of lyrics with music as
well as fascinating material on the origins of each song. Folk song has
always been a living art - a song would only be passed down if it was in
demand. Both tune and lyrics were honed and adapted for generations of
highly demanding and restless audiences - in pubs, on ships, in the
fields and among friends - and it is not surprising that those tunes are
often brilliantly memorable and the lyrics moving, funny and strange.