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GUEST,Paul Slade Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project (127* d) RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project 18 Feb 12

That'd be great, John - thank you very much.

As I say in my background piece about this song, there are quite a few theatrical versions knocking around, including George Lillo's The Fatal Curiosity in 1736, Camus' play of 1944 and Donald Rawe's Murder at Bohelland in 1991. I think it's just one of those rattling good yarns that bobs to the surface every few decades, sometimes presented as fact, sometimes as fiction.

I've just looked up the L'Etranger episode you mention, and Wikipedia has this: "The plot of Le Malentendu partially resembles the article of a newspaper that the protagonist of The Stranger finds and excessively reads in his prison cell: the story of a man who became rich abroad and comes home to his village where his sister and mother have a hotel. He doesn't unveil his personality (in order to surprise them later), and books a room as a guest. Because he is wealthy, his mother and sister murder him while sleeping."

Perhaps Camus saw a real newspaper clipping like this, and took his inspiration for the play from that report? Mary Arnold seems to have produced some very similar press coverage, so that's certainly one route by which the ballad's tale may have been transmitted. It's one of those stories that's too good to check, and I bet the newspapers would have found a way of recycling it somehow.

I'm working on a new PlanetSlade page now to pull together links to all this project's new music in a single tidy list, but it's going to take a few days to get that organised properly, so please bear with me.

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