Written by
Publication date
Although 1740 is the first know publication date of this ballad, Samuel Pepys referred to his enjoyment hearing the "little Scots song 'Barbary Allen'" in his diary entry for January 2, 1666. Several theories concerning the song's origin have been suggested, but none are particularly convincing. In fact, it is uncertain whether this ballad originated in England, Scotland or Ireland. "Barbara Allen" migrated to North America, where it was one of the most popular folk ballads.

Scholars have identified four basic tunes and four basic sets of lyrics for "Barbara Allen", although there are many variations, with one source claiming to have collected 98 different versions in Virginia alone. The basic story is the same in all versions -- a young man is dying of unrequited love for Barbara Allen, who is called to his bed side and is, at best, indifferent to his situation. After the young man dies, Barbara Allen experiences a change of heart and dies of grief.

This folk song is collected as Child Ballad 84 and Roud 54. The song is known by many names, most variations in title simply constituting different spellings of "Barbara" or "Allen".
Request a synchronization license


Added by tsk