The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #3920   Message #1081510
Posted By: Big Tim
29-Dec-03 - 10:37 AM
Thread Name: Origin: Jute Mill Song
Subject: RE: Jute Mill Song
I found a bit more biog stuff about Mary Brooksbank on my recent visit to Dundee. The Central Library there has quite a collection about her. I read through it all (except for the political stuff) and came away with the feeling that she was a very fine person indeed.

Two important points;

1. She published the song as "Oh Dear Me" (not "Jute Mill Song") in her book of poetry "Sidlaw Breezes" (1966).

2. She died in 1978, not 1980 as is often published. She died on 16 March 1978 and her obit appeared in the Dundee "Courier" newspaper on 17 March 1978 ( I saw an original copy).

She was born on 15 December 1897 in Shiprow, Aberdeen, ("one of the worst slums in the City", as she described it). Her father had been born at St Vigeans, Arbroath (near Dundee). He was a "dock labourer" and became a trades union organiser. He knew and worked with James Connolly, the famous Irish revolutionary. Her mother was a "fisher lassie", and a "domestic servant".

Mary was born blind due to an accident at birth but regained her sight at about 14 months. She was aged 8 when her family settled on Dundee, making the "flit" by boat down the coast. Her first home in Dundee for in the Pump Close at the foot of the Overgate. In 1911, before her 14th birthday, she got a job as "a shifter of bobbins" in the Baltic Mill.

(I'll post some more tomorrow, as, I think, post that are too long tend to be smewhat off-putting).