“Vilikens and his Dinah (William and Dinah)”


Dinah is in love with (William/Vilikens); her father insists that she will marry someone else. Dinah steals away, writes a note to her love, and drinks poison. Her love finds her body and in turn kills himself. They are buried in the same grave


As Laws's numbers show, this ballad has two versions. The first, "William and Dinah," is a straightforward tragic piece. At some point this was rewritten as a comic piece, "Vilikens and His Dinah." The two retain enough similarity that they can still be treated as one song.

In the department of Truly Useless Knowledge, we might note that the cat Dinah of Caroll's _Through the Looking Glass_ derived its name from this song. The two cats kept by the Liddell family were Vilikens and Dinah. - RBW

Same tune

  • Sweet Betsy from Pike [Laws B9] (File: LB09)
  • The Grand Hotel (File: FJ180)
  • Squarin' Up Time (File: FJ182)
  • Blinded by Shit (File: EM125)
  • Dinky Die (File: EM403)
  • Pokegama Bear (File: RcPokegB)
  • Johnston's Hotel (File: RcJohHot)
  • Four Horses (File: Rc4Horse)
  • Nothing At All (File: RcNoAtAl)
  • We Sing of the Polar Bear (Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 43)
  • The Abolition Show (words by Stephen Foster; Saunders/Root-Foster 2, pp. 12-13+418)
  • They Died as They Lived (per broadside Bodleian Firth b.27(61))

Cross references


  • Laws M31A:
  • Bodleian, 2806 c.17(469), "William and Diana," G. Thompson (Liverpool), 1789-1820; also Harding B 15(379a), Harding B 11(3592), Harding B 11(1311), Johnson Ballads 1842, "William and Dinah"
  • Laws M31B:
  • Bodleian, Harding B 26(662), "Villikins and His Dinah," J. Moore (Belfast) , 1846-1852; also Firth c.18(231), Firth b.27(61), "Vilikens and His Dinah"; Firth b.27(159), Harding B 11(3981), Firth c.18(232), "Vilikins and His Dinah"; Harding B 11(3982), "Vilikins and His Dinah!"
  • LOCSheet, sm1854 551640, "Vilikens and His Dinah," Horace Waters (New York), 1854 (tune)
  • LOCSinging, as114360, "Villikins and Dinah," unknown, 19C


  • Logan English, "William and Dinah" (on LEnglish01)


  1. Laws M31A, "William and Dinah A"/M31B "Vilikens and His Dinah (William and Dinah B)"
  2. Belden, pp. 147-148, "Wilkins and Dinah" (1 text)
  3. Randolph 80, "Vilikens and Dinah" (1 text plus an excerpt, 1 tune)
  4. Eddy 50, "Vilikens and his Dinah" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  5. Gardner/Chickering 162, "Young Diana" (2 texts plus mention of 1 more, 1 tune; the "A" text is "William and Dinah"; "B" is "Vilikens")
  6. JHCox 105, "Vilikins and His Dinah" (1 text)
  7. Fuson, p. 90, "Billy and Diana" (1 short text)
  8. BrownII 204, "Wilkins and His Dinah" (1 text plus 1 excerpt and mention of 3 more)
  9. Hudson 33, pp. 146-147, "Villikins and His Dinah" (1 text)
  10. Flanders/Brown, p. 49, "Dinah's Lovers" (1 text, in which William becomes "Sambo"!)
  11. Linscott, pp. 301-303, "Willikins and His Dinah" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Creighton-NovaScotia 17, "Diana and Sweet William" (1 text, 1 tune); 18, "Villikens and his Dinah" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. Leach, pp. 767-769, "Villkins and his Dinah" (2 texts)
  14. Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 53-54, "Vilikins and His Dinah" (1 text, 1 tune)
  15. Darling-NAS, pp. 118-119, "William and Dinah" (1 text)
  16. Silber-FSWB, p. 266, "Villikins And His Dinah" (1 text)
  17. Fuld-WFM, pp. 603-604, "Vilikens and His Dinah -- (Sweet Betsey from Pike)"
  18. DT 435, VILDINAH*
  19. Roud #271
  20. BI, LM31


Alternate titles: “Diana”; “Jimmy and Diana”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: M31A: before 1821 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 c.17(469)). M31B: before 1853 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 26(662))
Keywords: courting death poverty
Found in: US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,So,SE) Canada(Mar)