Williams, Alfred


Williams, Alfred
(1877-1930)
   As 'the Hammerman Poet', he published a number of books, but his main contribution to English folklore was his Folk Songs of the Upper Thames (1923) in which he presented the texts of material collected in Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, and Berkshire from 1914 to 1916. Williams did not develop his interest in folk-song any further, and the book contains no evidence of wider reading on the subject, but, paradoxically, this is what gives the collection its main value, even today. Williams was much closer to his informants, in terms of background, than most other song collectors, and he clearly had less exclusive definitions of the subject. He thus noted a wider range of songs than most of his contemporaries, and gives a more complete picture of the singing tradition of the time. He did not, however, note down the tunes of the songs. His song manuscripts are preserved in Wiltshire Record Office.
   ■ Leonard Clark, Alfred Williams: His Life and Work (1969); special issue of FMJ 1:5 (1969).

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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