National Airs in Georgian Libraries

Research output: Contributions to books, editions, reports or conference proceedingsConference contributionpeer-review



From 1710 onwards, for one and a quarter centuries, copyright legislation dictated that publishers should deposit copies of their new books in between nine and eleven designated UK libraries – this was the beginning of the legal deposit system that survives to this day.
It took a long while before music publishers realised the rules applied to them, too, but by circa 1785, the system was being applied to music with varying degrees of success. You’d think that this would mean there would have been multiple copies of all Britain’s Georgian folk music collections in the old copyright libraries.
Sadly, the jigsaw is incomplete, with some categories of material barely represented at all. However, national song collections fared rather better, and one university – St Andrews, in Fife – even has borrowing records to show us what was particularly popular.
I can’t tell you what happened to all the Georgian traditional music collections, but I can certainly reveal some of their forgotten history!


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOld Songs, New Discoveries:
Subtitle of host publicationselected papers from the 2018 Folk Song Conference
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherThe Ballad Partners
Number of pages114
ISBN (Print)9781916142411
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 2018

Author keywords

  • Folk song, National Airs, Libraries