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Sir Henry Ellis

(1777—1869) librarian


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(1777–1869). All his working life was spent in major libraries and archives, at the Bodleian and the British Museum. He was a leading figure among the literary-antiquarians of his day, and was Secretary for the Society of Antiquaries for 40 Years from 1814. For folklorists, Ellis's main claim to fame is that he undertook the daunting task of editing the mass of material collected by Brand for a second edition of his Observations on Popular Antiquities. Ellis managed this by 1813, publishing a two-volume set, but without grasping the nettle of arrangement, and the work rapidly became famous for its irritating lack of clear structure and footnotes upon footnotes. Nevertheless, the new edition immediately became a standard work in the burgeoning antiquary-folklore field, being referred to as ‘Brand-Ellis’ by later writers, and Ellis returned to the subject with a new three volume edition, better organized, and with additional material, in 1849., 1968: 17–20, 22–4; DNB.

From A Dictionary of English Folklore in Oxford Reference.


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