John Clare's Scraping
prog about John Clare presented by Jon Boden
Helpston, Clare's village, was far from a cultural desert. His father was a singer with a large repertoire. Clare appreciated the songs local people sang and collected many, hoping to make a song book.
Gypsy friends taught Clare to play the fiddle - he was, he wrote, 'a desent scraper' - and he learned tunes from Wisdom Smith. He gathered 263 tunes, noted dances and recorded country customs.
To explore the role of this culture on John Clare's life and work the musician Jon Boden) visits his home in Helpston, looks at his tune book, plays and sings. Jon talks to George Deacon, author of John Clare and the Folk Tradition, and hears from the poet David Morley who has written a collection inspired by Clare's friendship with Wisdom Smith. Mina Gorji reveals, too, that Clare was well-read and accumulated a sizable library. And we hear Clare's poems.