John Clare and the Folk Tradition, by George Deacon, was first published in 1983 by Sinclair Browne. It was republished in paperback by Francis Boutle in 2002 with a foreword by Tom Paulin. In the book Deacon reveals the depths of John Clare's engagement with the folk tradition of Helpston. It contains all of the folk songs, fiddle tunes, dance instructions and folk customs collected by John Clare Clare as well as examples of his use of folk song and folk tradition in his poetry.
Deacon also shows how Clare's development as a poet was influenced by the folk song culture that he grew up with. Both of his parents sang as did many of his village contemporaries. John Clare was, himself a fiddle player with a repertoire of nearly 300 fiddle tunes. Folk song and music were an ever present part of life in Nineteenth Century England and John Clare's is the earliest account we have of the songs that people actually sang.
Professor Eric Robinson, the Clare Scholar and editor of The Oxford Standard Authors edition of Clare's Poetry and Prose wrote of George's book:The outstanding contribution made by George Deacon in his John Clare and the Folk Tradition to the study of this subject has placed all lovers of Clare in his debt .
The book has been widely reviewed and has been cited in most critical studies of John Clare since its first publication. Extracts from some of the reviews will be found here: Reviews
George, accompanied by Isobel Deacon and Christine Hodgkinson, has recorded seventeen of love songs John Clare collected or wrote on a CD entitled Dream Not of Love. Two sample tracks are available for download on the Dream Not of Love page.