AbstractDuring the Late Victorian period the first folksong revival in England underwent a transformation: the scattered and isolated efforts of individual collectors were consolidated into a cultural movement that had a formal organization, the Folk-Song Society, and a publication, the Journal of the Folk-Song Society. This article contests Harker’s and Boyes’s claims that the Late Victorian and Edwardian collectors exploited the workers’ music, created a mythical “folk” living in imaginary villages, and published “fakesongs” rather than genuine items from oral tradition. Looking back on the period between 1878 and 1903 we can, with the benefit of hindsight, see the achievements, failings, and some of the unique characteristics of the Late Victorian phase of the revival. This article concentrates on five aspects of this early phase: the emergence of a cultural movement, the role of women in the movement, the concepts of folksong employed by the collectors, the idea of national identity as expressed through song, and the two related issues of censorship and authenticity.
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