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Lady Nairne biography

05 Feb 20 - 07:27 AM (#4032327)
Subject: Lady Nairne biography
From: Jack Campin

New (2019) biography by Freeland Barbour.

https://birlinn.co.uk/product/the-white-rose-of-gask/

Launch event in Edinburgh, 6 Feb 2020


05 Feb 20 - 06:10 PM (#4032448)
Subject: RE: Lady Nairne biography
From: Tattie Bogle

Thanks for the info, Jack: afraid I won't make the launch, but being a big fan of Lady Nairne's songs, the book will be on my birthday list (not far off now!) I did once go to a workshop run by Freeland Barbour of Lady Nairne's songs, which was very interesting. I picked up an old book, containing facsimiles of her songs, in the 2nd-hand bookshop in Innerleithen: we also used to sing some of her songs during the Innerleithen Music Festival weekend, which coincided fairly closely most years with her birthday.


06 Feb 20 - 09:04 PM (#4032665)
Subject: RE: Lady Nairne biography
From: GUEST,Starship

Jack Campin: The following link may be of interest to you.

https://content.thespco.org/music/concert-library/live-stream/mozart-symphony-no-29?utm_source=Facebook+SPCO+Main+Page&utm_mediu

I apologize for putting the post on this thread, but it would have required a new thread. Anyway, there it is. I hope you enjoy it all, although I doubt any of it's new to you.


10 Apr 21 - 05:36 PM (#4101801)
Subject: RE: Lady Nairne biography
From: Felipa

Author Freeland Barbour is giving a talk cum performance (along with Gerda Stevenson) on Sat. 2 May 8-9 pm BST as part of the John O'Groats Book Festival.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/john-ogroats-book-festival-the-music-and-the-land-tickets-145868664101 :

The life of a woman who secretly wrote some of Scotland’s most famous traditional songs will be revealed at this year’s book festival.

Most people will never have heard of Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne, but they will likely know her songs, which include ‘Charlie Is My Darling’, ‘A Hundred Pipers’, ‘Will Ye No’ Come Back Again’ and ‘The Laird of Cockpen’.

Alive from 1766 to 1845, she kept her writing a secret, even apparently not letting her husband, William Nairne, know.

Freeland Barbour, a descendant of Lady Nairne [1] and one of Scotland’s leading accordionists, has written a book about her life to bring her name the recognition it deserves.

The Perthshire man, who lives in Edinburgh, will talk about the book – The White Rose of Gask - while Gerda Stevenson, a guest author at the John O’Groats Book Festival in 2019, performs some of the more than 80 songs Lady Nairne wrote.

They will also do a performance together on The Music and the Land - a two-volume collection of Mr Barbour’s compositions featuring poetry and photographs which tell the story of his life in music.

After Lady Nairne’s death, the publication in 1846 of her collected songs and poems, called The Lays of Strathearn, named her and revealed her secret.

Mr Barbour said: “Her songs are so well known. About ten to 12 of her songs were big hits, up with anything Robert Burns ever did.”

Lady Nairne’s family were staunch Jacobites for generations, her grandfather having fought in the 1715 uprising, and her father and grandfather in 1745 at Culloden.

After escaping the battle and living abroad for seven years they returned to the family home at Gask in Perthshire.

Mr Barbour said: “Her father and grandfather were rebels, so they had to lie low. It was possible that they could have been handed in to authorities if they had made any nuisance of themselves.”

Christianity was also a strong influence in Lady Nairne’s life.

Mr Barbour said: “She was clearly writing Jacobite songs while at Gask. There is no record of her father knowing about it, although it was said she was writing them to please him.

“She was very influenced by Burns and the way he took less well-known folk songs and modernised them. She wanted to purify them.

“She didn’t write any music. She was not a composer, neither was Burns. They used what was there.”

Lady Nairne’s songs were included in national collections gathered at the time and became well known.

Mr Barbour said: “A lot of people thought Burns had written them. Carolina never let on. It was the fashion to keep quiet, but she took it to extremes.”

Lady Nairne gave away nearly everything she had to alleviate poverty.

Mr Barbour said: “This woman is an important figure in Scottish song writing. I would like to shine a spotlight on a remarkable lady who has left a legacy of songs.”

In 2019 he published a new edition of The Lays of Strathearn.

Mr Barbour is a former member of folk group Silly Wizard and a founder member of the ceilidh dance bands the Wallochmor Ceilidh Band and the Occasionals.

He has also owned and managed one of the UK’s leading recording studios, Castlesound in East Lothian.
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[1 - a descendant of Lady Nairn's eldest sister, I read elsewhere]


11 Apr 21 - 08:33 AM (#4101841)
Subject: RE: Lady Nairne biography
From: Steve Gardham

Very interesting.

At one point in the mid-19th century Robert Chambers tried to pin several Child Ballads on Lady Nairne, including Sir Patrick Spens. He was soon discredited, as you would expect, but nobody could disprove what he was claiming of course.


11 Apr 21 - 11:15 AM (#4101861)
Subject: RE: Lady Nairne biography
From: Jack Campin

She didn't write The Laird of Cockpen, she bowdlerized it. The version Herd published as "When she cam ben she bobbit" is far better, with its unique ending:


- And are you wi bairn, my chicken?
   Are you wi bairn, my chicken?
- Oh if I am not, I hope to be,
   Ere that the green leaves be shaken.


but that wouldn't fly in Nairne's time. The tune is known by Herd's title from the early 18th century.

I live in walking distance from Cockpen and the ruins of his house and family church are still sort of standing. I'd like to record the tune there sometime.

"Caller Herrin" is a masterpiece and her decision to give Nathaniel Gow the royalties from it (when he had become too ill to work) must have made a difference.


11 Apr 21 - 04:43 PM (#4101906)
Subject: RE: Lady Nairne biography
From: Steve Gardham

If I remember rightly 'Caller Herrin' is the only one to go into oral tradition in England.