Janet Blunt

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Janet Heatley Blunt (1859-1950), song collector.

Born in India, her interest in folk song was kindled by her army officer father, Charles Harris Blunt (1824-1900), who sang songs such as The Berkshire Tragedy which he had learned as a boy from the singing of his uncle's butler in Hampshire. Janet Blunt returned to England in 1892, after the death of her mother, and settled with her father at Halle Place, West Adderbury, North Oxfordshire. She lived there for the rest of her life, and was effectively the lady of the manor.

Folk song collecting was merely one of a number of hobbies she indulged in - others included archaeology, local history and genealogy - and she took something of a dilettante approach to the activity. She spent much of her time overseeing the management of the Halle Place farm and estate, and often visted her tenants, getting to know the working people of the village. This is how she normally encountered singers and their songs. Once she had found something she wished to collect, the singer would be invited to her home, so that Blunt could write down the words and work out the tune on her piano.

Among the singers from whom Blunt collected material were


Blunt also noted down details of the Adderbury morris dance tradition, largely from William Walton.

Janet Blunt's notebooks have been digitised and can be searched at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library online archive


References

  • Pickering, Michael, Janet Blunt: Folk Song Collector and Lady of the Manor (Songs from the Janet Blunt Manuscripts), Folk Music Journal Vol 3 No 2 (1976).
  • Pickering, Michael (1982), "Village Song and Culture", Croom Helm.
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