The Bab Ballads is a collection of light verses by W. S. Gilbert, illustrated with his own comic drawings. The book takes its title from Gilbert's childhood nickname. He later began to sign his illustrations "Bab". Gilbert wrote the "ballads" collected in the book before he became famous for his comic opera librettos with Arthur Sullivan. In writing these verses Gilbert developed his "topsy-turvy" style in which the humour is derived by setting up a ridiculous premise and working out its logical consequences, however absurd. The ballads also reveal Gilbert's cynical and satirical approach to humour.
They became famous on their own, as well as being a source for plot elements, characters and songs that Gilbert recycled in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. They were read aloud at private dinner-parties, at public banquets and even in the House of Lords. The ballads have been much published, and some have been recorded or otherwise adapted.