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William James Emberley (June 26, 1876 – 10 June 1937) of Bay de Verde, Newfoundland (now Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada). William son of Joseph Emberley and Jane Emberley (Russell) was a fisherman that experienced the hunger and plight of the Newfoundland fisherman during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The collapse of international markets made it difficult to sell fish at any price, and for years many Newfoundlanders lived on the government dole of six cents a day.

William adapted an older song to describe the plight of Newfoundland fishermen during the great Depression and called it Hard, Hard Times. Emberley's verses, which passed quickly into tradition, are a local application of a pattern established by an 18th-century English broadside which ridiculed certain trades and later was adapted often to describe hard times.

The Emberley version of Hard, Hard Times has been recorded by Dick Nolan, and was published in Edith Fowke's The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs, Harmondsworth, England, 1973).


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