Mudcat Café message #3939397 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3939397
Posted By: GUEST,Pseudonymous
25-Jul-18 - 12:24 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
Referring back to earlier discussions on this thread: the song 'The Coalowner and the Pitman's Wife' has been mentioned on this thread as an example of how good the folk were at writing folk song. I looked this up in Lloyd's "Folk Song in England", and found the text less than precise, as it said something to the effect of its 'seemingly' having been made by William Hornsby, and later unearthed by a person in Whiston, Lancs. Given what we now know about Lloyd, I wondered what the true story was.

I now know that in a letter to Dave Harker, Lloyd stated that he had in fact received an incomplete text and had 'altered' it to 'accommodate bits of the incomplete text I got from Jim Denision.'

So you can go back and read what Lloyd said about this song in his Folk Song in England in the light of his later admission. Lloyd could have, but did not, write that he himself had created the version on the basis of a fragment, and he could have printed the fragment.

Instead, he comments (p110) that is is a 'masterpiece', 'wearing a smile that shows strong teeth'. On page 386 he asks whether its author/s can be seen as intermediaries between an old tradition and a new'. On page 323 he refers to it as 'an impressive specimen of early strike balladry'. On page 324 he says it emerges as a 'witty caricature' and that its dialogic structure hints at the French 'debat pastoral'. I cannot but read these on the basis that Lloyd is congratulating himself and his work here and that the joke is on the credulous reader.

I'm probably the last person on this thread to learn about this particular piece of Lloydian tinkering. Sorry to all those who already knew.

But this particular song seems to me to be an unfortunate choice if used as part of any argument that Lloyd's book about folk song is better than Roud's. (I'm not saying for certain it was used in this way, but I have a feeling that it was.)