Violet Alford (18 March 1881 – 16 February 1972)[1] was an internationally recognised authority on folk dancing and its related music and folk customs. She believed that a common prehistoric root explained the similarities found across much of Europe.[2]

Alford was born the third daughter of Canon Josiah George Alford of Bristol Cathedral. She had the typical upbringing of a Victorian society lady; her father taught her and her sisters music, and a governess was responsible for their other early education. After completing her studies at Clifton High School Violet was sent to a finishing school for girls in Switzerland.[1]

Selected works

  • English Folk Dances (1925)
  • The Traditional Dance (1935), in collaboration with Rodney Gallop
  • Pyrenean Festivals (1937)
  • The Singing of the Travels (1956)
  • Sword Dance and Drama (1962)
  • The Hobby Horse and Other Animal Masks (1978)



Armstrong, Lucile. “Violet Alford Her Life and Work: A Tribute.” Folklore, vol. 84, no. 2, 1973, pp. 104–10,
Staff writer. “Alford, Violet (1881–1972).” A Dictionary of English Folklore, edited by Jacqueline Simpson and Steve Roud, Online, Oxford University Press, 2003,