“The Kind Cooperation of Many Local Friends”: Deemster J. F. Gill's Search for Manx Folk Singers (1895-1898)
The activities of the Gill brothers—W. H. Gill (1839-1923) and Deemster J. F. Gill (1842-99)—as folksong collectors and editors in the Isle of Man in the 1890s have been largely overlooked to date. Instead, it is the other collectors of folksong in this period, namely Dr John Clague (1842-1908) and A. W. Moore (1853-1909), who have received the greater attention and acclaim. However, the recently released private papers of Deemster J. F. Gill allow for a reassessment of the work of both brothers in the area of folksong collecting and publishing. This paper deals with the preparations the brothers made for their collecting trips about the island in 1895 and 1898. It is evident from Deemster Gill's correspondence discussed here that he built up a network of helpers who were willing to find potential singers for him and his brother, besides affording them other kinds of assistance in the work of collecting. The members of the Demester's circle of helpers can all be clearly identified, allowing us to see just who was supporting folksong collecting in this period in the Isle of Man.
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