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Keir Hardie and Ballads

GUEST,Fred McCormick 22 Mar 15 - 11:37 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 23 Mar 15 - 05:05 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 23 Mar 15 - 05:30 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 24 Mar 15 - 06:35 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 24 Mar 15 - 07:08 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 24 Mar 15 - 07:54 AM
GUEST,# 24 Mar 15 - 08:19 AM
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Subject: Keir Hardie and Ballads
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 22 Mar 15 - 11:37 AM

Last night I was watching a lecture given by Lord Kenneth Morgan on the subject of James Keir Hardie, one of the founders of the British Labour Party.

In passing Morgan mentioned that Hardie had an interest in ballads, and specifically mentioned The Ballad of Chevy Chase, by which I presume he meant Child 162.

Does anybody know anything about this interest of Hardie's?


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Subject: RE: Keir Hardie and Ballads
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 23 Mar 15 - 05:05 AM

Keir Hardy's Scottish childhood background (an illigitinmate child raised by his mother in poverty)may have meant that he heard ballads being sung by his mother. At one point he could have been describing her when he wrote:

"(a woman who)never fussed, patching, darning, knitting or sewing, keeping the cradle gently rocking with a light touch as she crooned some old ballad… She ruled her little kingdom in love and gentle firmness."


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Subject: RE: Keir Hardie and Ballads
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 23 Mar 15 - 05:30 AM

Keir Hardie was present at the first performance by the Esperance girls of morris dances and folk songs collected by Cecil Sharp, in April 1906. Mary Neal was involved in Labour campaigning, as was her great friend Emmeline Pethick. Hardie's knowledge of ballads may of course have come from his Scottish upbringing, but would have been reinforced by the folk songs he heard that day.
Derek


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Subject: RE: Keir Hardie and Ballads
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 06:35 AM

Thanks for that fellas. I suppose the question has resolved itself into whether Hardie enjoyed ballads as pieces of literature (ala just about every 19th century ballad scholar), or whether he'd had some contact with them through oral tradition. Given his family background, and where and when he born (Motherwell, 1865), the latter sounds extremely likely.

Anyway, this question has thrown up to me just how shamefully little I know about one of the most important founding figures of the labour movement. Can anyone recommend a good biography?


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Subject: RE: Keir Hardie and Ballads
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 07:08 AM

Fred, I would suggest you ask the Keir Hardie Society- www.keirhardiesociety.co.uk, set up a few years ago to honour the great man. An interest in the old ballads would not be surprising as he spent a lot of his life in the town of Cumnock in Ayrshire, in Rabbie Burns country, and they are quite rightly very proud of him there- a bust stands in the town centre.
The Scottish poet Rab Wilson from the nearby ex-mining town of New Cumnock is also a great proponent of the man and is very knowledgeable about him- if you can follow his 'Lallans' emails, I could put you in touch?

Anyone who's been to the Durham Miners' Gala every July will know that as well as the homage to Birtley folk club heroes Jack Elliott and Jock Purdon, the 'Cotia miners banner features a full picture of Hardie on the reverse.


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Subject: RE: Keir Hardie and Ballads
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 07:54 AM

Thanks Jim. I'll check that out.


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Subject: RE: Keir Hardie and Ballads
From: GUEST,#
Date: 24 Mar 15 - 08:19 AM

http://www.abebooks.co.uk/book-search/title/keir-hardie/author/caroline-benn/

They're a tad expensive, but with title and author maybe you could locate one at a library.


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