Henry Clay Work was an American songwriter and composer of popular songs, born in Middletown, Connecticut and died in Hartford. He was educated in Illinois but later returned to Connecticut taking an apprenticeship as a printer. Self-taught in music and poetry, he is reported to have composed directly whilst typesetting without a manuscript or resorting to a piano. He wrote a large number of patriotic songs during the Civil War, the best known being of course Marching Through Georgia
(1865), which later became a jazz standard. His Grandfather's Clock
(1876) is known throughout the English-speaking world ever since (and by-the-way, one this old codger's childhood favourites). Another of his songs to a achieve widespread popularity was Ring the Bell, Watchman!
(1865) which with a change of lyrics became the almost Australian national anthem Click go the Shears
. It was also taken up by English and Scandinavian seamen as Strike the bell
Besides his music, Work was also an inventor patenting diverse machinations such as a rotary engine, a knitting machine and a walking doll. It is written that he was probably one of only a few of the truly original American popular song composers to invent American popular music style influencing the succeeding generations of songwriters.