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Happy! – Feb 1 (Child / Bell Robertson)

Abby Sale 01 Feb 06 - 08:25 AM
Scotus 01 Feb 06 - 12:13 PM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Feb 06 - 12:32 PM
Scotus 01 Feb 06 - 12:49 PM
Abby Sale 01 Feb 06 - 06:07 PM
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Subject: Happy! – Feb 1 (Child / Bell Robertson)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 01 Feb 06 - 08:25 AM


Happy Birthday!

Francis James Child

was born

2/1/1825
(d.9/11/1896)

G.L. Kittredge wrote that Child: "knew more about the ballad than anyone else who ever lived."

--

But while Child was amassing from libraries his great work on the "dead" oral tradition of English and Scottish ballads,
Miss Bell Robertson of New Pitsligo, contributed 383 ballads & songs (nearly all perfect & complete) to Gavin Greig.
All learned orally, most from her mother, many known to be through grandmother. Many never printed before.
Many in excellent versions Child never found in libraries.

Born on her father's croft,

2/1/1841
(d.8/21/1922)

Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved
What are Happy's all about? See Clicky


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Subject: RE: Happy! – Feb 1 (Child / Bell Robertson)
From: Scotus
Date: 01 Feb 06 - 12:13 PM

and, of course, Bell was only one of many, many, fine singing women who provided the 'fodder' for mostly male ballad and folksong collectors! Plenty of societal and academic reasons for that, though.

Jack


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Subject: RE: Happy! – Feb 1 (Child / Bell Robertson)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Feb 06 - 12:32 PM

Bell Robertson wasn't a "singing woman". She had a good memory and knew the words to a lot of songs, which she wrote down for Greig; but she didn't sing any of them. Child would have been very interested had he still been alive at the time.


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Subject: RE: Happy! – Feb 1 (Child / Bell Robertson)
From: Scotus
Date: 01 Feb 06 - 12:49 PM

Ouch!


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Subject: RE: Happy! – Feb 1 (Child / Bell Robertson)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 01 Feb 06 - 06:07 PM

Greig was born a few days from now in 1856. I don't know when he started serious collecting (perhaps not until 1907) but he was already recognized in his area by 1906. His major publications in the Buchan Observer begin 1907 and run to 1911. Goldstein in the 1963 collection of them gives that Greig had been collecting some 20 years. So, in putting together the E&SPB, Child's representatives - well- might have come across him. They certainly covered a good deal of NE Scotland printed matter. One can at least say they were collecting simultaneously.

Greig often refers to Bell not ever being willing to sing. He always speaks highly of her but I get the impression he was somewhat chagrined and had nagged her at least a bit. You couldn't blame him. It seems that both her mother and grandmother were singing women, though. They take some Child ballads back to before Mrs Brown of Falkland. This is interesting to me in that Mrs Brown is sometimes considered the sole source of songs already in Bell's family.

If only Child knew...

But he wasn't looking for a living tradition.

I certainly intend no dis to Child's genius and the monumental work and its contribution to folkdom. But it has certain defecits as well.

It's the other side - the near exclusion of Greig and Duncan from scholarly (or popular) attention for 70 years after their deaths.

They collected - about 3500 - texts and were rarely noted by scholars and only bits published - the Observer pieces by Goldstein and Last Leaves in 1925 until finally the 1980's onward. You can easily tell the frustration of Keith in Last Leaves and Goldstein and especially in Arthur Argo who pleaded with all he ever met (nearly) to get someon to pay attention to Greig's materials.

Ah well, at least the wee set of books is available now.


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