Literary Dustman (1) (The)

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LITERARY DUSTMAN, THE. AKA - "Yorkshire Morris Dance." English, (Morris) Jig. England, Yorkshire. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. A morris dance tune composed c. 1610, according to Merryweather, who may be repeating an assertion from the often-unreliable Irish musicologist Grattan Flood (Story of the Bagpipe, 1911), who maintained the "Morrice" was danced to the tune of an old song called "The Literary Dustman." Frank Kidson, writing in Groves Dictionary (p. 267) prints the tune and says that the morris dance was performed to it in Yorkshire, but also says that the melody "was founded on that used for 'The Literary Dustman'." He makes no mention of greater antiquity for the melody.

"The Literary Dustman" was a comic song called "The Literary Dustman" by Robert Glindon (1799–1866), written c. 1832. It is mentioned in this passage from a collection of lectures called English music 1604 to 1904: Musicians' Company, London that surveys the song-and-supper clubs, precursors to the variety stage:

Another famous tavern of a similar character to those previously mentioned was the "Dr. Johnson", originally styled the "Dr. Johnson Concert-Room", in Bolt Court, Fleet Street. The "Dr. Johnson" derived its name from the erudite lexicographer, who, when engaged upon his magnum opus resided close by, and died in the vicinity. No price was charged for admission to the concert and supper-room, the entertainment, which was similar to that supplied at the other taverns of the same genre west of Temple Bar, being quite gratuitous. But although there was no fee charged to go in, visitors had usually to pay pretty stiffly to go out. The reckoning was paid on quitting the room, a waiter totting up the account as you passed through. The tavern was noted for the excellence of its brown beer and succulent chops and kidneys, and, in the season, oysters were in great demand here, a curious old fellow named Poynter wheeling in towards midnight a barrel full of these delicious bivalves, which found a ready sale with the audience. Among the professional singers to be heard here were Bob Glindon, the talented author and composer, whose name at once suggests that admirable lyric, "The Literary Dustman".


Source for notated version:

Printed sources: English Folk Dance & Song, vol. 46, No. 1, 1984. Grove (Dictionary of Music and Musicans), p. 267 (article on Morris Dance). Merryweather (Merryweather's Tunes for English Bagpipes), 1989; p. 36.

Recorded sources:




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