The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #101087   Message #2035782
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
25-Apr-07 - 05:32 PM
Thread Name: Obit: Frank Purslow (25 April 2007)
Subject: RE: Obit: Frank Purslow (25 April 2007)
I heard this morning, just before leaving for Barry Callaghan's funeral.

I never met Frank, though I've had a series of immensely enjoyable phone conversations with him over recent months as we prepared the new edition of Marrow Bones. He had seen about half of the new notes to the songs that Steve Gardham and I have been putting together, and was kind enough to say that they were just the sort of thing that he would have liked to have done himself if he had had the opportunity back in 1965. As some of you will know, the notes that appeared in the original edition were actually just roughs and hadn't been intended for publication. Frank was mortified when he found that they had been included without his knowledge.

I promised him that we would put that right, and I hope that is what we have done. Frank wrote a short preface for the new edition only a few weeks ago, and there will also be a piece about him in the book, which Derek Schofield has written for us. I had been looking forward to meeting him in person, and to more chats on the phone over the coming year; I will be starting work on a new edition of the second book, The Wanton Seed, almost as soon as the first is printed.

Now all we can do is dedicate the new Marrow Bones to his memory. It was a very influential collection, second only to The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs as a source of traditional material for the burgeoning English folk song revival in the 1960s. Some of the songs became folk club standards, while others are hardly sung today; at any rate they will soon be available again, to a new generation of singers.

Frank was very pleased that his work hadn't been forgotten and that it was going to appear again; properly bound and laid out this time, and without the illustrations. He never liked them. Sad as the news is, he died knowing that he was respected and valued by a lot of people he had never met. I last spoke to him a fortnight ago, I think. He had been catching up with Steve's 'Songs Under the Microscope' feature in English Dance and Song, and had answers to some very obscure questions involving broadsides.