Definition and background:
This is the term used to designate poetry of William Gilbert of Gilbert & Sullivan fame. Gilbert used the pen name Bab to publish short stories in the form of poems in the magazine Fun. Bab was a childhood nickname of his. By 1871, there were about 119 published in the magazine. During this time (1869), he also published a collection of 44 of his Bab Ballads, and later in 1873, published another collection of 36 more. Several publications consider these two collections (totaling 80 poems) as the complete Bab Ballads, but experts have put the actual number close to 140 total poems. Gilbert & Sullivan's light opera, HMS Pinafore, used a number of these poems as source material for the story. The Bumboat Woman's Story, Captain Reece, General John, Joe Golightly, and The Marinet all had a part in the plot. In 1950, Charles Mackerras arranged a collection of melodies from the Gilbert & Sullivan light operas into a ballet, Pineapple Poll, based on The Bumboat Woman's Story.
For more information on the music term "Bab ballad" check out these other resources:
Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary