The founding National Association of Morris and Sword Dance Clubs

Cecil Sharp's People.org.uk – official launch

Cecil Sharp's People.org.uk – official launch

You may recall we had advance notification of the new website www.cecilsharpspeople.org.uk earlier this month (see Cecil Sharp's People.org.uk – A valuable New resource)

The site has now has its official launch and has issued the following press release:

A new website www.cecilsharpspeople.org.uk has been launched in January 2020 that will provide biographical sketches of the 650 folk singers, musicians and dancers who gave their songs, tunes and dances to Cecil Sharp in the Edwardian Folk Revival. In his notes Sharp left us many statements and clues about the performers – more information than any other collector. It has been possible to identify and reconstruct the lives of nearly all performers. 

With the help of a Maltwood grant from the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, freelance researcher David Sutcliffe completed the Somerset section of the research (342 performers) in July 2019 and has been extending his research to all the other counties which Sharp visited. The research is 80% complete and it is hoped to complete the work by Easter 2020. It does not cover Sharp’s visits to USA.

There is considerable interest currently in the people who handed on their folk heritage to the early collectors. ‘Who were the Folk?’ is a recurring question. This website now provides the answers. Researchers and performers can use this latest research to recreate the social context of song collection at the time. 

Ever since the digitisation of the song material of Sharp and other collectors within the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website (www.vwml.org), there has been a need for more information on the singers involved. With the kind permission of the English Folk Dance & Song Society, the new website is able to show Sharp’s photographs of the singers and to link back to the digitised songs and tunes with ease. The website will run for 3 years to test its usefulness and will be maintained by David Sutcliffe in Somerset. It is a non-commercial website.

The website is absolutely flexible - information can be updated and amended in the light of new evidence from researchers, from the 1921 census, from descendants of singers etc. It is another starting point in our understanding of folksong, not an end point. For more information contact davidsutcliffe27 [at] btinternet [dot] com

David Sutcliffe,
Isle Abbots, Taunton, Somerset 
28 January 2020

David Sutcliffe is the author of the biography of Rev Charles Marson ‘The Keys of Heaven’ (Cockasnook Books 2010) and of the article ‘Cecil Sharp and Rev Charles Marson (The Early Years)’ in ‘Old Songs, New Discoveries’, edited by Steve Roud and David Atkinson (Ballad Partners 2019).