Mudcat Café message #3942652 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3942652
Posted By: GUEST,Pseudonymous
09-Aug-18 - 06:54 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
I saw this article too. Interesting, though some of this work has been published early in the 20th century too, so it isn't quite the new discovery the Guardian article seems to suggest.

Thanks for posting it, Jag.

I have ancestors who worked in Lancashire mills in the early 19th century. I didn't think this line were non-literate (which seems to be a requirement for some definitions of folk) in the 19th century. Some were tee-totallers and involved with Chartism, albeit it tangentially as far as I know, and this collection seems to support my views on their literacy. They had moved to Lancashire from the Dales of Yorkshire, for the work presumably, several members of the same family at about the same time. So who knows what 'dialect' they and their children would have used.

One poet cited, Samuel Laycock, was born, like my ancestors, in Yorkshire and worked in a cotton mill in Stalybridge. So they may call it 'The Lancashire' cotton famine, but a lot of it wasn't in Lancashire, but in Cheshire. Put simply, a lot of Manchester was once in Cheshire.

There isn't just one Lancashire accent nowadays and I don't suppose there was just one Lancashire dialect then. Complicated also by moving county boundaries and vanishing counties. I recognise some dialect words used (eg clammed) and I'm not from Lancashire. So they are right to comment how difficult it must be to speak these poems as their writers would have.

The poet quoted in Jag's link bemoans the fact he cannot send his kids to school, and I was trying to remember whether you had to pay a penny at this time. This was written before Forster's 1870 education act, certainly. This seems to show that literacy was important to many in the working class at that time.

My understanding had been that there was a lot of support for abolition in Lancashire despite the cotton famine. I accept that you can't interpret the choice of tune one way or another.

The tune choice is presumably the sort of evidence drawn upon by Roud in commenting about how much American music, including minstrelsy, had influenced what ordinary people in England were singing and how early.

As the web-site states, this poetry is evidence of 'a thriving literary culture'. It also points out that the 'voices' in the poems are fictional, and not necessarily those of the authors.

Edwin Waugh (one of the authors cited) wrote a book about the cotton famine which is on line. He seems to have been a collector.

There was a programme on Radio 4 recently about poets writing in dialect in which some of the names on the Exeter web-site were mentioned.