by Debra Cowan
This version of Fair Annie (Child 62) comes from the late Peter Bellamy but it turns out that many others have recorded it as well. We were given a bit of background from our good friend Nigel Schofield (who knows everything about everything) that surprised us: the original version of the story is a Lai by Marie de France, probably written around 1194. She was known in the court of Henry II, where the Lai de Fresne, which mirrors the Fair Annie story, was recited. She may have even been Henry II’s illegitimate half sister, exiled to France as a baby with her mother, in which case the original Lai has extreme irony. Who knew?