W. F. Marshall

Life
1888-1959 [William Forbes Marshall; ‘Bard of Tyrone’]; b. Derebard, nr. Omagh, Co. Tyrone; son of schoolmaster and ed. at his father’s school in Sixmilecross Co. Tyrone; later at Royal School, Dungannon, Royal Univ., Galway, and Assembly’s College, Belfast; ordained, and minister in Castlerock, Co. Derry. lecturer in elocution at Magee Univ. College, Derry; MRIA 1942; recognised dialect authority; BBC talk on on Ulster dialect issued as Ulster Speaks (1936); with a BBC version of Midsummer Night’s Dream; a dialect dictionary in preparation was destroyed by a puppy; issued Verse from Tyrone (1923), and Ballads and Verses from Tyrone (1929), prefaced by Helen Wadell, being poetry contrib. to Spectator, Poetry Review, Irish Presbyterian, and Dungannon Royal School Magazine; issued Planted by a River (1948), a hist. rom. set in the reign of Queen Anne and characterising Ulster plantation as an act of cultivation not dispossession; also Ulster Sails West (1950), about 18th c. emigration from Ulster to America; also a play, The Corduroy Bag; his poetry was reprinted as Livin’ in Drumlister (1983). IF2 OCIL

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Works
  • Verses from Tyrone (London: Arthur H Stockwell [1923]), 44pp.;
  • Ballads and Verses from Tyrone, intro. by Helen Waddell (Dublin: Talbot Press 1929), 96pp. [ten poems prev. in Verses from Tyrone];
  • Ballads from Tyrone (Belfast: Quota Press 1934), 123pp.;
  • Tyrone Ballads (Belfast: Quota Press 1944), 61pp.;
  • Livin’ in Drumlister: The Collected Ballads and Verses of W. F. Marshall, intro. by J. A. Todd (Belfast: Blackstaff 1983), 144pp.;
  • His Charger White (Belfast: Quota 1939), 95pp.;
  • Planted by a River (Belfast: Mullen 1948), 248pp.
Miscellaneous
  • Ulster Speaks (London: BBC 1936), 37pp., rep. as ‘The Speech of Ulster’, in Robert Marshall, ed., The Book of Belfast (Belfast: Mayne, Boyd & Son Ltd. 1937) [q.pp.];
  • Ulster Sails West (Belfast: Quota Press 1950).

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Criticism
Terence Brown, ‘Of Heroes, Gods and Peasants’ [Chap. 4], Northern Voices: Poets from Ulster (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1975), pp.70-73. For his fiction, see J. W. Foster, Themes and Forces in Ulster Fiction (1974) [rems. on Planted by a River].

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Commentary
Sam Hanna Bell, ‘A Banderol’ [Introduction], The Arts in Ulster (London: Harrap 1931), writes: ‘We have had to wait until as recently as two years ago for our first historical novel of important, W. F. Marshall’s Planted by a River.’ (p.17.)

Benedict Kiely, ‘Dialect and Literature’, in A Raid into Dark Corners and Other Essays (Cork UP 1999). ‘Lesser poets, and prose-writers, have with some assiduity, sometimes painful to witness, and with vcarying degress of success applied themselves to the mixed speech of Ulster. The most effective of them was by no means a major writer but a clerical scholar, a doctor of divinity, and a man who had devoted himself to ths study of the survival of older usages, even Elizabethan usages, in the speech of rural Ulster. That was the Rev. W. F. Marshall of Sixmilecross, and it was my honour to have known him. / It may come as a surprise to many people to know that the lament of the womanless mountainy farmer near Carrickmore in the County Tyrone was the work of such a man. it has such a place in popular literature. here’s a portion of the lament of the old man who was ‘livin’ in Drumlister and getting’ very oul’ [quotes]: ‘Wee Margit had no fortune / But two rosy cheeck wud plaze. / The fam o’ lan’ was Bridget’s, / But she took the pock disayse. / An’ Margit she was very wee, / And Bridget she was stout / But her face was like a jail dure / Wi’ the bolts pulled out. [… &c.]’ / It may not be among the higher flights of lyric poetry, yet it is still immediately obvious that the reverend gentleman has obseved his people and lsitened to them speaking. He had eyes and ears that any writer might be thankful for.’ (pp.235-26.) Note that Kiely summarises the poem as ‘the lament of an old man who was livin’ in Drumlister and getting’ very oul’ (ibid., p.235).

Benedict Kiely, Drink to the Bird (London: Methuen 1991): ‘From the works of the Rev. Dr Marshall of Sixmilecross I fall to quoting, as I frequently do: “The night the win’ is risin’ and it’s coming on to sleet, / It’s spittin’ down the chimney on the greeshig at me feet, / It’s whistlin’ at the windy and it’s roarin’ round the barn. / There’ll be piles of snow the morra on more than Mullagharn.” (Kiely, op. cit., p.98.)

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References
Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction [Pt II] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), lists Planted by a River (Belfast: Mullen 1948), 248pp. [Scottish settlers in reign of Anne; Protestant farmer tells story of his youth; highlight is hunting down of local outlaw; Presbyterian viewpoint].

Sophia Hillan King & Sean MacMahon, eds., Hope and History: Eyewitness Accounts of life in Twentieth-Century Ulster (Belfast: Friar’s Bush Press 1996), incls. ‘The Speech of Ulster’, pp.76-8. Also, Patricia Craig, ed., Rattle of the North (Belfast: Blackstaff 1992), gives extract from ‘Ulster Speaks’ (here 228ff.).

Books in Print (1994): Ballads and Verses from Tyrone (Dublin: Talbot 1929), 96pp.; Verses from Tyrone (London: Arthur H Stockwell [1923]); Ballads from Tyrone (Belfast: Quota Press 1934), 123pp.; Tyrone Ballads (Belfast: Quota Press 1944), 61pp.; Livin’ in Drumlister, intro. J. A. Todd (Belfast: Blackstaff 1983) [0 85640 293 1 pb]; Ulster Speaks (London: BBC 1936), 37pp.; His Charger White (Belfast: Quota 1939), 95pp.; Ulster Sails West (Belfast: Quota 1950)

 

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Notes
Quota Press: Tyrone Ballads (Belfast: Quota Press 1944), lists on title-page facing Verses from Tyrone; Ballads and Verses from Tyrone [rep.1930]; Ulster Speaks; His Charger White; Ulster Sails West; note, this vol. reprints ‘Me and Me Da from Verses&c.’

Spectator (2 Dec. 1995), editorial (p.5) cites W. F. Marshall (Ulster Sails West), quoting George Washington, ‘I will make my last stand for liberty among the Scotch-Irish of my native Virginia.’

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