On 10 February 1663 Katherine Philips’s translation of Pierre Corneille’s Pompée was staged at the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. It was a significant moment: the play, which included five newly-written entr’acte songs, was the first by a woman to be performed in a professional theatre. The playbook was printed in Dublin and London in the same year. By the turn of the century Philips and her play largely faded into obscurity. In the early 1990s a setting of one of the Pompey songs, ‘From lasting and unclouded day’ was discovered by Elizabeth Hagemann (co-editor, with Andrea Sununu, of the forthcoming OUP collected works of Philips) in a late eighteenth-century New England preacher’s hymn-tune book, titled ‘Pompey’s Ghost’. In fact this version of the song enjoyed an enduring popularity in New England well into the nineteenth century, shorn of any attribution to Philips or its theatrical origins. Another setting emerged mainly in Scotland in the middle of the eighteenth century, the tune taken from another song: a couple of decades later Robert Burns testified to its status as a Scottish song, thus securing its appropriation into the emerging canon of Scots songs. In the process two obscure Scottish poets claimed authorship of the song, or had it claimed for them. Although it is not unusual for songs to disseminate without attribution to the text author, the popularity of ‘Pompey’s Ghost’ over two continents across almost two centuries is noteworthy. This paper will discuss the way in which the now obscure ‘Pompey’s Ghost’ became Philips’s most widely disseminated song, while her authorship was detached early in the process; it will also discuss the way in which the cultural significance of the song became appropriated by various authors and within different contexts, which further created a barrier to the original authorship being recognised.

Keywords

  • Forgery, authenticity, Katherine Philips, Robert Burns, John Lowe, 'Pompey's Ghost', Scottish song, mistaken identity, nationalism
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2021
EventAuthentic, Fake or Mistaken Identity ? Creation, Recreation, Deception and Forgery in music and the Related Arts
- The Institute of Musicology at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Duration: 21 Oct 202122 Oct 2021
Conference number: 1
https://authentic-fake.zrc-sazu.si/

Conference

ConferenceAuthentic, Fake or Mistaken Identity ? Creation, Recreation, Deception and Forgery in music and the Related Arts
CountrySlovenia
CityLjubljana
Period21/10/2122/10/21
Internet address
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