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ROSIE MACGREGOR - Angela Remembered: The Life Of Angela Gradwell Tuckett

ROSIE MACGREGOR - Angela Remembered: The Life Of Angela Gradwell Tuckett
WaterMarx Media ISBN: 9780957072633

At first blush, this 84 page biography may appear to have little to do with folk and traditional music, but the latter part of Angela’s life was very much intertwined with traditional music, and especially with Swindon Folk Singers Club, where she was obviously a noted character. She seems to have provoked love, apprehension and trepidation in almost equal measure, for this remarkable woman had led an active life, following her ideals and beliefs with energy and conviction. Legends and folklore adhere to people like Angela, and Rosie MacGregor (better known in the folk world as Rosie Upton) has treated her life with sympathy, respect and an admirable balance.

Born into a prosperous Bristol Quaker family in 1906, Angela was brought up with music - Cecil Sharp’s friend and early collaborator, Charles Marson, was a family friend, as had been William Morris – and followed her father into the solicitor’s profession, becoming the first female solicitor to practise in Bristol. Along the way she learned to fly, played hockey for England over several years, and joined the Communist Party as a result of seeing the suffering caused by the Depression. Her hockey playing did not cease when her outspoken views on Hitler’s regime alarmed the selectors, but she focussed on other interests, such as writing for the Daily Worker and acting before heading the legal team of the National Council for Civil Liberties. Journalism at a high level continued to be part of her life until she met and married a fellow communist and moved to Swindon. Her love of folk song and of the concertina had never ceased, and this became more important as she entertained striking miners, the other women at Greenham Common and anyone else who would listen. She remained a persuasive speaker and campaigner for communism, and even in her eighties continued to live an unpredictable but always interesting life.

Rosie has sifted all the information available about this indomitable character and has shone a timely spotlight on someone whose beliefs tallied with those of the movers and shakers of the burgeoning folk scene of the time. Given this lady’s amazingly energetic and well-filled life, my brief synopsis of it can only be very partial, but I urge you to read this book. It is not just the story of one woman – it is a social history and it demonstrates very effectively the part that our music can play in that history.

John Waltham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 109 of The Living Tradition magazine.