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A. L. Lloyd
Birth name Albert Lancaster Lloyd
Born 29 February 1908(1908-02-29)
Wandsworth London, England
Died 29 September 1982 (aged 74)
Occupations folk singer

Albert Lancaster Lloyd (29 February 1908- 29 September 1982), usually known as A. L. Lloyd or Bert Lloyd, was an English folk singer and collector of folk songs, and as such was a key figure in the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s.


Early life

Lloyd was born in Wandsworth in London, his father was an AA Patrolman and failed smallholder. His mother sang songs around the house and according to Lloyd mimicked the Gipsy singers that she'd heard. By the age of fifteen his mother had died and his father, an ex-soldier, was a semi-invalid, and Lloyd was sent as an assisted migrant to Australia in a scheme organised by the British Legion.[1] There, from 1924-1930, he worked on various sheep stations in New South Wales and it was during this time that he began to write down folksongs he learned.[2]. In the outback of NSW he discovered that he could access the State Library and order books - his special interests being art and music he could get a grasp of those topics without seeing a painting or hearing any music. He also bought a wind-up gramophone and began to investigate some of the classical music he'd read about.

Career as folklorist

When he returned to the UK in the Great Depression of the early 1930s, in the absence of a permanent job, he pursued his interests in studying folk music and social and economic history, doing much of his research at the British Museum: he is quoted as saying that there is "nothing like unemployment for educating oneself".[3] In 1937 he signed on board the factory whaling ship the Southern Empress bound for the southern whaling grounds of the Antarctic.[4]

During this decade, he joined the Communist Party of Great Britain[5] and was strongly influenced by the writings of the Marxist historian, A. L. Morton, particularly his 1938 book A People's History Of England.[6] In 1937, Lloyd's article "The People's own Poetry" was published in the Daily Worker (since 1966 renamed the The Morning Star) newspaper.[5]

In 1938 the BBC hired him to write a radio documentary about seafaring life, and from then on he worked as a journalist and singer. A proponent of communism, Lloyd was staunchly opposed to Adolf Hitler, and, in 1939, he was commissioned by the BBC to produce a series of programmes on the rise of Nazism. Between 1945 and 1950 he was employed as a journalist by Picture Post magazine but he left the job in an act of solidarity with one of his colleagues.[6]

By the 1950s he had established himself as a professional folklorist—as Colin Harper puts it "in a field of one".[7] Harper goes on to note that, at a time when the English folk revival was dominated by young people who wore jeans and pullovers, Lloyd was rarely seen in anything other than a suit (and a wide grin). Ewan MacColl is quoted as describing Lloyd (with affection) as "a walking toby jug".[8] In 1959 his collaboration with Ralph Vaughan Williams, The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, was published.

In the early 1960s, Lloyd became associated with an enterprise known as "Centre 42" which arose from Resolution 42 of the 1960 Trades Union Congress, concerning the importance of arts in the community. Centre 42 was a touring festival aimed at devolving art and culture from London to the other main working class towns of Britain. It was led by Arnold Wesker, with MacColl and Lloyd providing the musical content and Charles Parker on production. Centre 42 was important in bringing a range of folk performers to the public attention: Anne Briggs, the Ian Campbell Folk Group, The Spinners and The Watersons.[9]

Lloyd recorded many albums of English folk music, most notably several albums of the Child Ballads with Ewan MacColl. He also published many books on folk music and related topics, including The Singing Englishman, Come All Ye Bold Miners, and Folk Song in England. He was a founder-member of Topic Records and remained as their artistic director until his death. He died at his home in Greenwich in 1982.[10]

While Lloyd is most widely known for his work with British folk music, he had a keen interest in the music of Spain, Latin America, Southeastern Europe and Australia (He recorded at least 6 discs of Australian Bush Ballads and folk music).

Lloyd also helped establish the folk music subgenre of industrial folk music through his books, recordings, collecting and theoretical writings.


  • The Shooting of His Dear / Lord Bateman , HMV B.10593, 78rpm, 1953
  • Down in Yon Forest / The Bitter Withy , HMV B.10594, 78rpm, 1953
  • Bold Jack Donahue / Banks of the Condamine , Topic TRC84, 78rpm, 1954
  • Australian Bush Songs, Riverside RLP 12-606, 1956
  • Banks of the Condamine and Other Bush Songs, Wattle Records (Australia) 10" LP, 1957
  • Across the Western Plains, Wattle Records (Australia) LP, 1958
  • English Drinking Songs, Riverside Records (USA) LP, 1961. CD Reissue: Topic records
  • England and Her Folk Songs (A Selection From The Penguin Book), with Alf Edwards, Collector Records (UK) 7" EP
  • First Person (Some Of His Favourite Folk Songs), Topic Records LP, 1966
  • The Best Of A.L. Lloyd, Xtra (UK) LP, 1966.
  • Leviathan, Topic Records (UK) LP, 1967. CD Reissue: Topic records
  • Ten Thousand Miles Away: English and Australian Folk Songs, Fellside Records (UK) 2CD, 2008

With Ewan MacColl

  • The English and Scottish Popular Ballads 9 Volumes, Washington albums, 1952
  • Thar She Blows! (Whaling Ballads and Songs), Riverside RLP 12-635 (USA) LP, 1957
  • Whaling Ballads, Washington WLP 724 (USA) LP, 196x. This was a reissue of the Riverside album above.
  • English and Scottish Folk Ballads, Topic Records (UK) LP, 1964
  • Bold Sportmen All, Topic Records (UK) 10", 1958. CD reissue: Topic Records
  • Gamblers and Sporting Blades (Songs Of The Ring and the Racecourse), Topic records (UK) 7" EP, 1962
  • A Sailor's Garland, Xtra Records (UK) LP, 1966
  • Blow Boys Blow (Songs of The Sea), Tradition Records (USA) LP, 1967. CD Reissue: Tradition, 1996

Compilations and contributions

  • Blow The Man Down, Topic Records (UK) 7" EP, 1956
  • The Iron Muse (A Panorama of Industrial Folk Music), Topic Records (UK) LP, 1963
  • Farewell Nancy (Sea Songs and Shanties), Topic Records (UK) LP, 1964
  • The Bird In The Bush (Traditional Erotic Songs) , Topic Records (UK) LP, 1966
  • Singing The Fishing - A Radio Ballad, Argo Records (UK) LP, 1967
  • Babbacombe Lee by Fairport Convention (1971), Island Records: Narration and arrangement
  • The Valiant Sailor (Songs & Ballads of Nelson's Navy), Topic Records (UK) LP, 1973
  • Sea Shanties, Topic Records (UK) LP, 1974
  • The Transports (A Ballad Opera by Peter Bellamy), Free Reed (UK) 2LP, 1977
  • Topic Sampler No. 1 - Folk Songs, Topic Records (UK) LP
  • Topic Sampler No. 2 - Folk Songs, Topic Records (UK) LP
  • Topic Sampler No. 3 - Men At Work, Topic Records (UK) LP
  • Topic Sampler No. 6 - A Collection Of Ballads & Broadsides, Topic Records (UK) LP
  • Topic Sampler No. 7 - Sea Songs & Shanties, Topic Records (UK) LP

Recorded and edited by Lloyd

  • Folk Music of Bulgaria, Topic Records (UK) LP, 1964
  • The Music of Albania, Topic Records (UK) LP, 1966


  • García Lorca, Federico (1937) Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter and other poems; translated by A. L. Lloyd. London: Heinemann
  • Kafka, Franz (1937) The Metamorphosis; translated by A. L. Lloyd. London: Parton Press
  • Fallada, Hans (1952) The Drinker; translated by C. Lloyd and A. L. Lloyd: Melville House, Hoboken, N.J.
  • Lloyd, A. L. & Vinogradoff, Igor (1940) Shadow of the Swastika, London: John Lane The Bodley Head
  • Lloyd, A. L. (1944) The Singing Englishman: an introduction to folksong. London: Workers’ Music Association
  • Lloyd, A. L. (compiler) (1945) Corn on the Cob (Popular and Traditional Poetry of the USA) London: Fore Publications
  • Lloyd, A. L. (1951) Singing Englishmen: a collection of folk-songs specially prepared for a Festival of Britain concert given in association with the Arts Council of Great Britain
  • Lloyd, A. L. (compiler) (1952) Coaldust Ballads (Part-songs by various composers). London: Workers’ Music Association
  • Lloyd, A. L. (compiler) (1952) Come All Ye Bold Miners (Ballads & Songs of the Coalfield) London: Lawrence & Wishart
  • Vaughan Williams, Ralph & Lloyd, A. L. (editors) (1959) The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs Harmondsworth: Penguin Books
  • Lloyd, A. L. (1960) The Golden City London: Methuen
  • Lloyd, A. L. (1967) Folk Song in England London: Lawrence & Wishart (Paperback edition: Paladin, 1975)


  • Ken Taylor, Ten Thousand Miles: A.L.Lloyd in Australia, 1970
  • Gavin Barry, Bert a personal memoir, 1985


  1. ^ Particularly in the period after World War I, Australia had a policy of recruiting child migrants from the United Kingdom, financially assisted by the British Government’s Empire Settlement legislation. See, for example, the Department of Health website
  2. ^ Britta Sweers, Electric Folk: The Changing Face of English Traditional Music, Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 0195158784
  3. ^ Sleeve notes to LP First Person (Topic 12T118).
  4. ^ Michael Brocken, The British Folk Revival 1944-2002, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2003. ISBN 0754632822 p.26
  5. ^ a b Brocken p.25
  6. ^ a b Brocken p.26
  7. ^ Harper, Colin (2006). Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival (2006 edition). Bloomsbury. pp. 26. ISBN 0-7475-8725-6.  
  8. ^ Harper p.26
  9. ^ Harper p.103
  10. ^ Lucy Duran, "A. L. Lloyd. A Tribute", published in Yearbook for Traditional Music, Vol. 14, 1982 (1982), pp. xiii-xv

External links


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