The Brightest of Entertainers – jig dolls from England and beyond
Some years ago Pat Pickles who had, with her late husband Rennie, written a book about the history of jig dolls asked me to work with her on a new edition. The task was a long one; the revision turned into a whole new edition, with numerous extra photographs, mostly in full colour, and loads of additional information, including whole new sections of my own research, and case studies into the jig doll in East Anglia and Yorkshire.
It was very much a joint venture and I am only sad that Pat wasn’t really able to appreciate its eventual publication, as, sadly, her health took a serious turn for the worse before it was actually printed. I am glad to say that I was able to put the finished article into her hands before she died in 2019. The Brightest of Entertainers is available for sale from the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust by post or from me in person.
The book was short-listed by the The Folklore Society for the Katharine Briggs Award 2019.
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Latest website publications
Unsung Histories – a series of true stories never told before – about people you may never even have heard of – but whose life stories reverberate across the decades and centuries. Many of these stories start with the life of someone who played a musical instrument or sang an old folk song, and many of them lived in my home area of East Anglia. The Unsung Histories website is the new home for my writings, set up in 2021, with some updated versions of my ‘back catalogue’ and also new subjects, including the story of a barrel organ that was taken to the Arctic in the 1820s, the history of the dance tune and song Paddy O’Rafferty, and the discovery of a WW2 radio series featuring traditional singers in pubs across England.
East Anglian Dulcimers – the major research work into English dulcimers – the instruments, players and makers, researched and written together with John Howson. This is ongoing work, but there is already a huge database of information uploaded. Our work complements, updates and enlarges on many aspects of David Kettlewell’s work in the 1970s.
‘Investigating Traditional Culture & Folklore’; ‘Songs from the Stour Valley’; ‘Dances from the Stour Valley’ – for the Managing a Masterpiece project (EATMT, 2011)
‘Before the Night Was Out’ (EATMT, 2007) – a book of tunes collected from traditional musicians in Suffolk & Norfolk, plus social history and biographies of the main traditional musicians from the region. Available from the EATMT website.
‘North End Voices’ (EATMT, 2007) – a booklet about traditional singing in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. Available from the EATMT website.
‘Blyth Voices’ (EATMT, 2003) – a book of songs collected in Southwold, on the Suffolk coast, by Ralph Vaughan Williams, plus social history and context. Available from the EATMT website.
‘A Teacher’s Guide to Regional Resources for Traditional Folk Music’ (1997)
‘Setting up a School Archive’ (a guide for teachers, Suffolk County Council, 1995)
‘From the Horse’s Mouth’ (a resource for teachers, Suffolk County Council, 1995)
‘History and Music’ (a guide for teachers, Suffolk County Council, 1994)
‘A Musical Life – William Godball’ (Suffolk Review, 1999)
‘Music with a Local Flavour’ (Primary Music Today, 1998)
The following pieces of original research were all published on the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust website between 2003-2017, while I was Director. As I write (February 2022) the articles below remain largely uncredited, pending an update of the EATMT website.
‘Two Hundred Year Old Tunes from Bury St Edmunds’ – based on a booklet of 24 Country Dances published in 1812 and including original research as well as transcriptions of the tunes. Very hard to find, and a little gem, so here’s a direct link. The article includes an excerpt from my unpublished dissertation, ‘Dancing in Suffolk 1750-1900’ (1995).
‘Ralph Vaughan Williams in the East’ – with case studies on King’s Lynn (‘North End Voices’), Southwold (‘Blyth Voices’) and South Norfolk. Please note that the latter two sections have now been superseded by updated versions published here, on my website in 2019: ‘Southwold singers 1910’ and ‘South Norfolk Singers 1911’.
‘Two Singers from the Stour Valley’
‘Behind the Song’ – Peter the Paynter and The Captain’s Apprentice
‘Tracing the Tune’ – The Perfect Cure and Starry Night for a Ramble
‘Profiles of Traditional Musicians’ – 10 articles about musicians, singers and stepdancers from East Anglia (32 articles in total in this section).
‘Village Portraits’ – articles about Suffolk villages with musical traditions – Mendlesham, Blaxhall and Worlingworth.
‘John Clare: Traditional Musician’
The pages about stepdancing, dulcimers and jig dolls on the EATMT website are also written by me, as are the research pieces under various community project headings – e.g. ‘Tuning In’ (Lowestoft, Orford, Mendlesham and Benhall) and ‘Playback’.