The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #18902 Message #2922072
Posted By: Artful Codger
06-Jun-10 - 08:39 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: My Pretty Quadroon
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Pretty Quadroon
In St. Nicholas, Volume 30, Part 1 (issue for Feb. 1903), "conducted" by Mary Mapes Dodge (that name again!), is printed "Prince Charming's Fate: and operetta in three acts", written by Caroline C. Lovell. A couple verses, with chorus, are sung to "Cora, my Pretty Quadroon".
The Beverly Hill Billies recorded MPQ in 1929, before the Fred Howard revision. Judging from a Sons of the Pioneers recording, Vincent and Howard can at most claim to have written a new verse, changed the "darky" line and hacked out a derivative arrangement. In all other respects, it follows the apparently "traditional" versions, rather than giving rise to them.
Charlie, the Beadle citation would seem to support the allegation that it was written by Mrs. Mary Dodge in 1863. This is probably the same Mary Mapes Dodge who edited St. Nicholas. She lived from 1831-1905, and began writing and editing in 1859, after the death of her husband, working with her father on two magazines, Working Farmer and United States Journal. She had an early success with a collection of short stories, The Irvington Stories (1864) and followed with her first novel, Hans Brinker (1865). Later, she edited for Harriet Beecher Stowe--whether this reflects anything about her racial sensibilities, I couldn't say.
In any case, there is nothing which argues against her authorship. It may not be entirely happenstance that Ms Lovell used the editor's song in her "operetta", nor that another Mary Dodge (a descendant, relative or namesake, possibly?) featured the song in a movie she was producing. The only strange thing is that so few 19th c. mentions survive of a song that was seemingly quite popular--and clean.