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William Walker of Aberdeen

Jack Campin 20 Nov 10 - 10:33 AM
BobKnight 20 Nov 10 - 11:31 AM
Matthew Edwards 20 Nov 10 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,Steve Gardham 20 Nov 10 - 11:41 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Nov 10 - 12:09 PM
Jack Campin 20 Nov 10 - 12:17 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Nov 10 - 05:00 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Nov 10 - 04:22 AM
GUEST,Ian Olson 03 Dec 10 - 11:44 AM
GUEST,Steve Gardham 03 Dec 10 - 01:14 PM
Jack Campin 03 Dec 10 - 02:08 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Dec 10 - 04:17 PM
Gallus Moll 03 Dec 10 - 04:24 PM
GUEST,Ian Olson 04 Dec 10 - 07:39 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Dec 10 - 04:56 PM
GUEST,Ian Olson 05 Dec 10 - 10:31 AM
Steve Gardham 05 Dec 10 - 04:03 PM
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Subject: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Nov 10 - 10:33 AM

Can somebody tell me something about William Walker of Aberdeen, sometime collaborator with both Peter Buchan and Francis Child?

I've got a copy of Christie's "Traditional Ballad Airs" in front of me with his name in the flyleaf, and pencil annotations by (I think) Murdoch Henderson. It would be interesting to know what he did with it.


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: BobKnight
Date: 20 Nov 10 - 11:31 AM

Contact Prof Ian Russell at The Elphinstone Institute, Aberdeen University. He's very approachable, and a very nice man.


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 20 Nov 10 - 11:41 AM

There is a very useful book published by the Elphinstone Institute The Bedesman and the Hodbearer comprising the correspondence between Walker and Child, and edited by Mary Ellen Brown.
Willam Walker (1840-1931) did a lot of the legwork and research in Scotland for Child while Child worked on the 'English and Scottish Popular Ballads'. He also lived long enough to assist Gavin Greig and James Duncan in their collecting work in the North-East of Scotland.
There is a good article by Ian Olson on Walker in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Matthew


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: GUEST,Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Nov 10 - 11:41 AM

Jack
I don't think Walker knew Buchan. He did liaise a lot with Child over Buchan's ms which was then owned by I think Buchan's nephew, David Scott, Buchan having died in the 50s. Walker would have been a young man when Buchan died. While Walker was corresponding with Child he was completely in agreement with Child over Buchan's heavy doctoring of his ballads. When Child died and Walker met people like Greig collecting in the area, Walker began to backpedal on his stance over Buchan, wrote a bio of Buchan and started defending him.

Both Buchan's publishede works and Christie's are highly suspect as far as provenance is concerned. Christie used a lot of Buchan's suspect texts to bolster TBA and added his own second strains to many of the tunes.

This is all off the top of my head but I could easily check the facts for you as I have most of the published works on and by Buchan plus copies of his so-called mss. I say 'so-called' because when we think of mss we normally think of field notes with info on the singers etc., but in Buchan's case these don't exist. All of the items referred to as mss of Buchan are actually publishers' proofs.


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Nov 10 - 12:09 PM

"heavy doctoring of his ballads"
'Alleged' heavy doctoring of his ballads - there is no evidence that he doctored them any more than did any of the other ballad anthologists of the period.
We have a set of Ford's 'Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland' signed and annotated by Walker. It is thanks to his annotations that we believe we have traced the authorship of 'A Wee Drappie O't' to Walter Watson, and not Robert Tannahill, as generally believed.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Nov 10 - 12:17 PM

I knew what Christie did with the tunes, and it's usually pretty clear what sort of texts he was using, wherever he got them from - the pencil notes (by MH or whoever) comment on that.

But since Walker seems to have been Child's main source for tunes, it would be of interest if he was simply recycling Christie. (He isn't listed as a subscriber, so maybe didn't have a strong personal link).

Buchan doesn't really come into it. I find Ian Spring's evaluation pretty persuasive, for what it's worth.


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Nov 10 - 05:00 PM

Jim,
When the likes of Professor Child, Joseph Ebsworth, Frederick Furnivall and several others including New Deer locals, who have spent a lifetime studying the ballads, start 'alleging' some of us at least sit up and listen!


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 04:22 AM

Steve,
I understand that the Buchan controversy was just that - a controversy, and that he had as many champions as he had detractors - and still has.
I'm not claiming to know the rights and wrongs of the question, just that we don't have a definitive answer and making definitive statements is misleading - on any such an issue.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: GUEST,Ian Olson
Date: 03 Dec 10 - 11:44 AM

To get back to the initial question, Walker's dates were 1830-1941, Peter Buchan 1790-1854, William Christie c.1817-1885. Walker, who began his interest in folksong late in life, makes no mention of having met either Buchan or Christie (who only started collecting from 1844 onwards), but points out that Buchan's versions were confirmed later by Christie's.

As Mary Ellen Brown's "Bedesman and the Hodbearer" ably shows, Walker only advised Child towards the end of Child's publication of the great English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1888-1892), and did no 'legwork' or such.

Although, in his understandable admiration of Child, Walker fell in politely with Child's dismissive view of Buchan, he was to recant completely and publish his detailed defence in "Peter Buchan and other Papers" (Aberdeen, 1915), a defence strongly supported by both Gavin Greig and James Bruce Duncan, major collectors who also knew the North-East of Scotland's song and ballad tradition intimately.

Walker's high opinion of Buchan and his findings? Walker was in fact bitterly opposed to 'trash' of any sort in folksong and was unhappy that Greig and Duncan's motto was (uniquely for the time) "Give exactly what you get" from their sources, for their collection thus included music-hall songs, popular street songs, slip songs of ballad hawkers, and other rubbish he considered 'not true folksong at all'. So bitter that after their early deaths (1914: 1917), Walker only permitted the great Child Ballads in their collection (only 13% of the whole) to be published as "Last Leaves" in 1925 (introduced, by the way with an able defence of Buchan). All this is in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for Walker. If Jack Campin has difficulty accessing that, much of the detail appears in the entries I also supplied for 'Gavin Greig' and 'James Bruce Duncan' in the final volume 8 of the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection (2002).

P.S. Buchan's "mss" only publisher's proofs? I am surprised that the usually thorough Steve Gardham has not seen the British Library's unpublished Mss of Buchan's. I reproduce the title page of these handwritten mss on page 158, of "'The Bonny Lass o' Fyvie or 'Pretty Peggy of Derby'", in the recent Review of Scottish Culture, 22 (2010) 150-163. This paper also reprints the superb 24-stanza version of 'The Bonny Lass o' Fyvie' that Buchan collected, typical of the quality of his material (Malcolm Taylor in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library has offprints of the paper if anyone is interested).


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: GUEST,Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Dec 10 - 01:14 PM

Hi Ian
You are absolutely right, I haven't actually got copies of the BL mss. I am going on the descriptions of people like Ebsworth and Dixon, but I will check them out at the earliest opportunity, and will check out the article mentioned the next time I'm in the VWML.


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Dec 10 - 02:08 PM

Thanks Ian. I'll look for Mary Ellen Brown's book and the DNB entry (it hadn't occurred to me that somebody like Walker would have made it into that).

I need to go through the book to identify all the pencilled Murdoch Henderson remarks, if such they are. I don't know how the book came to be in the collection it was in - surprising, if JMH once had it, that it didn't end up in the NLS with his other books and papers. Did Walker's own stuff end up in a single curated collection or get dispersed?


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Dec 10 - 04:17 PM

What would be really interesting is a list of where the collectors' mss are now to be found. Scott is easy enough at Abbotsford but what about the likes of Jamieson, Maidment, Motherwell, MacMath, Kinloch et al? Mostly at Harvard I suspect. Even a list of those whose papers are no longer available would be useful.


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 03 Dec 10 - 04:24 PM

there was some earlier discussion about Will Walker around 24 January 2010 - subject was "a wee drappie o't" - I too have one of his books, a copy of Herd.


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: GUEST,Ian Olson
Date: 04 Dec 10 - 07:39 AM

Walker had a huge collection of books and other material, stacked in great piles throughout the house. The neighbours claimed they could hear them avalanching from time to time. His collection was first obtained by John Fairley, the Edinburgh bibliophile, much of whose collection (including the Walker material) was sold on his death to Gainsville in Florida in 1949 (Special Collections -Rare Books.Smathers Memorial Library, University of Florida   Florida).

Folk folk not in the DNB? I was pleased to be asked to write up William Walker, Alexander Keith, Gavin Greig, James Bruce Duncan, Walter Gregor, Francis Collinson, and (sadly) the modern David Buchan and Peter Hall.    It is not just for the 'great and good' generals, poets and statesmen or whatever, for you'll also see Peter Buchan, David Herd, Anna Gordon and Robert Tannahill there. Hamish Henderson is in, and Travellers such as Duncan Williamson will be appearing. Many public libraries have access to the [now Oxford] DNB online; it is well worth looking up as a first port of call on anyone.

If I can get to a post box, I'll send the meticulous Steve an offprint of the Pretty Peggy paper. I forgot to mention the reproduction of Buchan's MSS it contains has a neat drawing of one of Buchan's contributors, 'the blind beggar' James Rankin(e).


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Dec 10 - 04:56 PM

Many thanks, Ian.
Once again I am indebted to your generosity.
I seem to remember having problems with PB's contact dates with JR and how they fit in with the publication of the likes of Ancient Ballads from the North of Scotland. The Rankin connection would I think be a very useful subject for investigation. I'm not convinced Rankin had as much involvement as Peter suggests. Ever the sceptic!


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: GUEST,Ian Olson
Date: 05 Dec 10 - 10:31 AM

Steve, if you've managed to get hold of a copy of Walker's "Peter Buchan", you will recall that both Walker - and indeed Peter himself - largely discounted Rankin's contribution to Buchan's printed publications. The unpublished songs in the British Library MSS are a different matter. If not, I'll photocopy the relevant pages and put them in with the Pretty Peggy offprint.


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Subject: RE: William Walker of Aberdeen
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Dec 10 - 04:03 PM

Ian,
I'm sure I have a copy of Walker's PB and if I remember rightly it was very likely you who sent me it.


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