Thomas Percy Bibliography

Reliques of Ancient English Poetry 1756
Published in 3 volumes.) Described as “the most knowledgeable man of his age”, Percy had many friends who assisted his scholarly interests. Johnson encouraged Percy to edit the Reliques and praised his “minute accuracy of enquiry”, William Shenstone helped with the planning of the work and Thomas Warton searched Oxford libraries for comparative texts.

Percy “made the poetry of popular tradition accessible to educated readers and so transmitted its strength and simplicity to the early Romantic poets. Based on a tattered manuscript (known as the Percy Folio), itself a collection of earlier poems written down early in the 15th century, and, when Percy found it in a friend’s house, about to be used to light a fire, the Reliques incorporated many ballads, songs, and medieval romances supplied by friends who, at Percy’s request, ‘rommaged’ in libraries, attics, and warehouses for manuscripts and early editions. The judgement with which it is edited, despite some sacrifice of authenticity to readability, influenced concern for original sources and collation of texts.” (Encyclopædia Britannica)