Pepys Categories

The ballads in the Pepys Collection are divided into eleven categories within the collection. Eric Nebeker's essay, "Thinking Categorically," discusses the nature of these categorizations as a whole, as well as the catch-all category intriguingly called the "Promiscuous Supplement." The other Pepys category names may sound straightforward, but, as these essays show, ballads resist strict categorization while together giving way to a number of perspectives on the topics to which they are assigned. Gerald Egan's essay on "Devotion and Morality" examines how the ballads in this category relate to the complex religious landscape of the seventeenth century. Likewise, Paxton Hehmeyer's essay on "State & Times" looks at the ballads in the category treating the complicated political climate of the age. Other categories, like "History, True and Fabulous," examined in William Gahan's essay, or "Tragedy," analyzed by Tassie Gniady, seem at first glance to point to sub-genres within ballads, but reveal the mercurial nature of ballads as they vary widely within such categorization. Kris McAbee's essay on "Love Pleasant" and Jessica Murphy's two essays on "Love Unfortunate" and "Marriage" interrogate the significant number of ballads that handle the ups and downs of romantic relationships. Laura Miller's essay on the "Sea" ballads tackles this unique category's interest in a single occupation—one near and dear to the heart of the English naval administrator Samuel Pepys. Meanwhile, Simone Chess's essay on "Drinking & Good Fellowship" and Kris McAbee's essay on "Humour, Frollicks &c Mixt" analyze the categories that purport to be on popular pastimes but turn out to be so much more. For more about the collecting practices of Samuel Pepys, see Patricia Fumerton's essay on Pepys and his Collecting.