Douce was Keeper of Manuscripts at the British Museum and collected both manuscripts and printed books of all periods in many languages, from the earliest specimens of printing to contemporary ballads, chapbooks, plays, novels, childrens-books, illustrations and playing-cards. A scholar of witchcraft, “the dance of death” pictorial genre, romance and early printing, his ballad collection is diverse and partially organised chronologically and alphabetically.
Bibliography: J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps. A hand-list of the early English literature preserved in the Douce collection in the Bodleian Library, selected from the printed catalogue of that collection. 1860.
‘Francis Douce 1757-1834’, Bodleian Quarterly Record, 7, (1934), 359-84.
The Douce legacy. An exhibition to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the bequest of Francis Douce (1757-1834). Bodleian Library, Oxford, 1984
Contents: 1079 sheets in all, including 877 ballads in 4 volumes. The first two volumes of constitute a sequence of 17th-century ballads arranged alphabetically by title. The third volume, mostly of early-18th-century ballads, is also arranged alphabetically, except for a group of Robin Hood ballads and other miscellaneous ballads at the end. The fourth volume contains later ballads, from the 18th and early 19th centuries. Other ballads collected by Douce are included individually in various volumes under the Douce shelfmark.
Below are the volumes contained in this collection, click to expand.