Georgian lady borrowers at the University of St Andrews

I have just contributed a blogpost to a research project blog that is hosted by the University and Stirling. The project is called, Books and Borrowing 1750-1830: an Analysis of Scottish Borrowing Records. There are a large number of participating partners – visit this page to find out more.

I revisited Miss Elizabeth Lambert (later Mrs Williams), Mrs Bertram and her daughters, and Principal Playfair’s daughter, Janet. Here’s the blogpost:-

7 Pieces of Music to be Arranged: Women Borrowers and the First Female Cataloguer of the St Andrews Copyright Music Collection

Updated Blogpost about The Ould Orange Flute tune

Over the weekend, I updated a blogpost that I initially wrote last summer. It’s a tale of music publishers and copyright. (I don’t discuss the words at all!) You can catch up with it here:-

“Ould” is the way the song title is spelled. (Old, or Auld, occasionally crop up, but “Ould” is usually the way.)

Books and Book Borrowing: Research led by Stirling University

If you were involved with, or followed the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall copyright music project, then news of this project led by the University of Stirling will probably also interest you.

Books and Borrowing 1750-1830: An Analysis of Scottish Borrowers’ Registers

Here’s how the project is introduced:-

“Our project uncovers and reinterprets the history of reading in Scotland in the period 1750 to 1830. Using formerly unexplored (or underexplored) borrowing records, we are [ … ] creating a valuable new resource that will reveal hidden histories of book use, knowledge dissemination and participation in literate culture.”

I’ve been invited to contribute a blogpost about the lady musicians of St Andrews, so watch this space … !

The 2nd Monograph

I’ve been busily posting away on the Facebook page, so I thought I’d better update the blog as well. These few lines are taken from the FB page.

YESTERDAY there was a slight hint of despair as I wrote,

My second book is going to take quite a while to write! I’m only technically a postdoctoral researcher for one and a half days (10.5 hours) a week. I told myself I had to write 250 words a day, five days a week.But factoring in answering emails, attending the odd meeting, doing the odd bit of research, ordering the odd book or downloading the occasional article, and how much time do I have in which to actually write? So the first week of this bold resolution has resulted in …? Not exactly 1250 words for the introductory chapter. Oh, they’re good words, in the right order, but nonetheless … I shall have to pull my finger out tomorrow morning!!

TODAY, things started to look up:

ONE DAY THERE WILL BE A SECOND BOOK. I’ve redeemed myself. I set out to write 250 words a day, five days a week. I didn’t manage that in the first week. However, on the first day of the second week, I do now have a total of 1500 words – mathematicians will work out that I’ve caught up before the Easter break. This may be the only time that it happens, of course …

I decided to reward myself by playing through some of the songs in my new (secondhand) songbook this evening. That was quite satisfying. I returned to Facebook to note my findings:-

Let me introduce you to my new songbook, all the (possibly indirect) way from an American college. Hands together for a warm welcome! It’s very rare, believe it or not. What a drab, card cover it has! (It’s the dullest of dark moss-greens, almost greenish-gray, with faded gold lettering. I wonder if the earlier books for baritone, contralto and tenor were in similar garb?!) This is ‘Folk Songs of Scotland. Soprano album. Stephen-Burnett collection’, dating from the 1930s. The piano accompaniments are quite challenging – and there are some lovely harmonic touches from time to time, Definitely an ‘art’ volume, though – the songs are standard enough, but it’s not for Ma with her two terms of lessons at the piano and the weans singing along merrily. Best of all … look at the music example I’ve shared. This is the end of a song. You BET it’s a soprano volume. And not your average mezzo soprano either!

THE What are you reading? April 2021

I have contributed to the April 2021 ‘What are you reading?’ column in the Times Higher Education. My chosen book was Sean Reidy’s Dunbrody, A Famine Odyssey: How JFK’s Roots Helped Revive an Irish Town (Sean Reidy, 2020)

Follow this link:- – it’s easy to make a free account which entitles you to read a few articles a month.

Lambeth Palace Library fit for the 21st Century

I saw reference to Lambeth Palace’s long-awaited new library on Twitter. (My thanks to Ely Cathedral’s Honorary Assistant Bishop, Graham Kings, for sharing the link – we’re not acquainted, but credit where credit is due!) Revd. Kings shared the link to a new Church Times article, which I shall share here now, for the benefit of all followers of the Claimed From Stationers Hall legal deposit music network.

Church Times, 19 March 2021. “Declan Kelly talks to Tim Wyatt about the new Lambeth Palace Library building”

Archbishop’s library fully public at last

Full citation:-

Why am I interested? Well, Sion College was a college (essentially a social club) for London clergy, and it used to be entitled to receive legal deposit publications under copyright legislation. Some of the old legal deposit material from Sion College subsequently went to Lambeth Palace library. Even though Sion had long ago jettisoned the music before passing on book stock to Lambeth Palace, it’s wonderful to see the new facilities here. I haven’t added this link to our network bibliography, since it isn’t really connected to what we were researching – but it’s still to good to see the ‘long tail’ of the story – the ‘what happened next’.

I don’t have permission to share the picture at the head of the Church Times article. However, you can see it in all its glory at the link that I’ve shared.

Women in Music: article by Prof. James Porter

Professor Porter has a new article in the Journal of Musicological Research, and I look forward to reading it at the earliest opportunity. Did you know an Englishwoman called Harriet Wainewright wrote an opera, Comala, in 1792?

Here are the article’s details, if you have access to this Taylor & Francis Journal:-

Research Article

An English Composer and Her Opera: Harriet Wainewright’s Comàla (1792)

James PorterPublished online: 16 Feb 2021


I’m speaking at the second Pondering Paratext seminar next Wednesday afternoon between 2.30 and 4 pm. There will also be a talk by Dr Hazel Wilkinson.

My talk is entitled ‘Scottish Songs and Dances ‘Preserved in their Native Simplicity’ and ‘Humbly Dedicated’: Paratext in Improbable Places’. Amongst other delights, I’ll be sharing some of my recent findings about subscription lists to Scottish fiddle tunebooks.

You can book to attend the seminar by clicking this Eventbrite link here – and find out more about the Eighteenth Century Paratext Research Network – by clicking this link.

(Musicologists of this kind of music – do take a closer look at the tune pictured above. The book it comes from is riddled with errors in the basslines – I know this for a fact. So, the first bar and the third bar here are actually very similar, and I’m tempted to play the first bar with the bassline that the third bar uses. I promise not to talk such heresy in my talk, of course, when I shall focus on the paratext rather than the notes themselves!)