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1001 Stories Collection

The Highwayman

1001 The Highwayman
Added on 06th August 2020

Author Alfred Noyes
First published 1906
Publisher Blackwood’s Magazine, Edinburgh, UK

With beautiful descriptions this romantic but tragic ballad tugs at the heartstrings.

Story

One windy, moonlit night a highwayman visits his lover, Bess the innkeeper’s daughter. Betrayed to the authorities by Tim, the jealous stableboy, their love is put to the ultimate test.

Why we chose it

An atmospheric poem full of mystery and suspense – great to read aloud.

Where it came from

English poet and playwright, Alfred Noyes (1880-1958), began writing poetry while studying at Oxford University. After leaving his studies to pursue his writing career, Noyes stayed in a cottage at the edge of Bagshot Heath in West Sussex. One blustery night, the desolate expanse reminded him of the romantic tales of 19th century highway robbers and inspired him to write this narrative ballad.

Where it went next

A year after its publication, Noyes included The Highwayman in his collection, Forty Singing Seamen and Other Poems. The poem was an immediate success, and was voted 15th in a 1995 BBC poll of the nation’s favourite poems. It has been set to music on multiple occasions, inspired a Hollywood film, and was adapted as a novel by Deborah Ballou in 2002. Various illustrated editions have also been published, including one by Charles Keeping which won the 1981 Kate Greenaway Medal.

Associated stories

The narrative of the poem has inspired many children’s books, including The Highway Rat (2011) by Julia Donaldson and The Highwayman’s Footsteps (2006) by Nicola Morgan. Noyes’ other narrative poems include The Torch-Bearers trilogy (1922-1930) and Drake (1906-1908).

Added on 06th August 2020

Author Alfred Noyes
First published 1906
Publisher Blackwood’s Magazine, Edinburgh, UK