As Steve G says, I feel that the time for a biography and critical catalogue of Clifton's songs is long overdue. From the point of view of Mudcatters he must be one of the most interesting of all pre-1880 music hall/concert party stars.
His facility for writing songs that sounded as though they might have been been adapted from street tradition was outstanding. He was neither the first nor the last to play this game but he did it without the archness of delivery that typified such songs, usually inviting the audience to smile at naivety and laugh at tragedy. Even in his gently humorous songs, Clifton never indulged in send-up
It is not surprising that there is no biography of Clifton. Apart from the often unreliable biogs that appeared in many artist's lifetimes, really good music hall biographies are still quite uncommon.
Chris Beeching's superbly illustrated biography of George Leybourne, 'The Heaviest of Swells', (Volume One' he says!) is a recent example of a new genre, dealing comprehensively with an artist's life, times and songs - and the style - even the pronunciation - of Leybourne's delivery. It is a monumental work of dedicated industry and one hopes see more of its kind. But Clifton would not, perhaps, be a first choice for many music hall historians.
I think it is safe to say that more information has come to light about the man on Mudcat than will be found in any published reference and it is here that I would expect to see someone take up the task. I'm sorry that Steve can't undertake it, but understand his problem - and I'm certainly not equipped to do so - but is there someone out there who could at least put together a summary of the facts as they are now known from the various Clifton threads, and compile a list of known songs, with descriptions, dates, publishers, Roud refs etc.
It would be a valuable starter. Anyone?