Maggie May

Title

Maggie May

Description

The story of Maggie May starts in the USA. It was composed as a pop song for the minstrel shows by
Charles Blamphin and GW Moore circa 1869. It was published as sheet music in Chicago in 1870. It would
seem to have arrived in St Mabyn that same year, whether as sheet music or from the singing of someone
who had learnt it we do not know. What we do know is that a mine Captain called T Collett heard it at St
Mabyn in 1870 and recalled a fragmented version 60 years later to sing to Cornish folk song collector Ralph
Dunstan. Neither would appear to have been aware of its origins and Dunstan reconstructed and arranged
it for his collection of Cornish Dialect and Folk Songs published in 1932. This is a classic example of the
folk process as from here it became part of the traditional community singing repertoire in Cornwall with
variations on the tune and lyrics quite disconnected from the now long forgotten American Pop song.
Folk Song collector Sabine Baring Gould recorded it from the singing of Robert Hard of South Brent during
his collecting period 1889/95 but recognised it as a minstrel song and made little of it. The song may have
lingered around North Cornwall following its arrival in St Mabyn but it was Dunstan’s version that was
popularised in the nascent Cornish folk scene of the 50s and 60s by Brenda Wootton, Charlie Bate and John
Bolitho. John Bolitho sung a version in Cornish and entered it for the Pan Celtic Singing Competition in
Killarney in 1979 and it is from his singing that the score here is taken.

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Reference

Maggie May

Cite As

“Maggie May,” An Daras, accessed August 10, 2022, https://andaras.omeka.net/items/show/15.

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