The Late Victorian Folksong Revival

The Persistence of English Melody, 1878-1903


In The Late Victorian Folksong Revival: The Persistence of English Melody, 1878-1903, E. David Gregory provides a reliable and comprehensive history of the birth and early development of the first English folksong revival. Continuing where Victorian Songhunters, his first book, left off, Gregory systematically explores what the Late Victorian folksong collectors discovered in the field and what they published for posterity, identifying differences between the songs noted from oral tradition and those published in print. In doing so, he determines the extent to which the collectors distorted what they found when publishing the results of their research in an era when some folksong texts were deemed unsuitable for "polite ears."

The book provides a reliable overall survey of the birth of a movement, tracing the genesis and development of the first English folksong revival. It discusses the work of more than a dozen song-collectors, focusing in particular on three key figures: the pioneer folklorist in the English west country, Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould; Frank Kidson, who greatly increased the known corpus of Yorkshire song; and Lucy Broadwood, who collected mainly in the counties of Sussex and Surrey, and with Kidson and others, was instrumental in founding the Folk Song Society in the late 1890s. The book includes copious examples of the song tunes and texts collected, including transcriptions of nearly 300 traditional ballads, broadside ballads, folk lyrics, occupational songs, carols, shanties, and "national songs," demonstrating the abundance and high quality of the songs recovered by these early collectors.
  • Scarecrow Press; April 2010
  • ISBN 9780810869899
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format
  • Title: The Late Victorian Folksong Revival
  • Author: E. David Gregory
  • Imprint: Scarecrow Press

In The Press

A welcome follow-up to Gregory's Victorian Songhunters: The Recovery and Editing of English Vernacular Ballads and Folk Lyrics, 1820-1833 (2006), this book presents tunes and texts for hundreds of songs from the published works of British folksong collectors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in particular Sabine Baring-Gould, Frank Kidson, and Lucy Broadwood. Active before sound-recording technology was generally available, these collectors listened to singers and transcribed what they heard into musical notation. Though the collectors may have made subtle changes to suit their own agendas, the value of their collections is immense. To further the assessment and enjoyment of this legacy, Gregory (history, Athabasca Univ., Canada) provides insightful commentaries on the world in which the collectors worked and on the music they found. He identifies himself as a cultural historian rather than an ethnomusicologist, but he makes significant contributions to both fields with this work. This book will please informed amateurs and academics interested in the history, culture, and music of the British Isles. Summing Up: Recommended.

About The Author

E. David Gregory is professor of history and humanities and chair of the Centre for Global & Social Analysis at Athabasca University in Northern Alberta, Canada. He is the author of Victorian Songhunters: The Recovery and Editing of English Vernacular Ballads and Folk Lyrics, 1820-1883 (Scarecrow Press, 2006).