Journeyman: An Autobiography
Last updated: 17.12.19
Printed: 2009 Author: Ewan MacColl
Publisher: Manchester University Press ISBN: 978-0719079351
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Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher's blurb:
This new edition of 'Journeyman' , Ewan MacColl's vivid and entertaining autobiography, has been re-edited from the original manuscript, and includes a new introduction by Peggy Seeger, for whom he wrote the unforgettable 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face'. Footnotes have also been added. This fascinating account of the life of the singer, songwriter, actor, playwright and broadcaster begins with the story of a working class Manchester childhood, which had a profound influence on his songwriting, inspiring, for example, 'Dirty Old Town' (1949). The book traces the founding of Theatre Workshop, one of Britain's most influential twentieth-century theatre companies, from MacColl's involvement in Salford, his participation in Agitprop during the mass unemployment of the 1930s, the formation of Theatre Union in 1936, and the founding of Theatre Workshop by Joan Littlewood and MacColl after VE Day in 1945. It goes on to describe the life of Theatre Workshop as a touring company with MacColl as its main playwright, followed by MacColl's gradual 'break with theatre' and his work on the 'Radio Ballads' (1957-1964), an important landmark in the history of radio documentary. Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger were among the main leaders of the UK folksong revival. 'Journeyman' documents their struggle from the mid 1950s to secure the integrity of that revival as the popular media appropriated and re-created traditional music for commercial gain. An entertaining and thought-provoking slice of British history, it will appeal to those interested in the histories of folk music, theatre, radio, left-wing politics and the Manchester area.