Stan Hugill’s book – Shanties and Sailors’ Songs, was published in 1969 (Herbert Jenkins Ltd). Generally, if you are interested in shanties and maritime culture, this is an excellent book for you, no matter what level of knowledge you have mastered, you will enjoy this book. Due to the fact, that Stan Hugill was a sailor and shantyman, he tells us many interesting things in this book. Worth noting, this is not just a songbook, in fact, only half of this book are containing songs.
Starting from the end
So firstly, the shanties and forebitters you can find of course in the second half of the book. Worth to point out, that this book is written in a very characteristic and typical way for Stan Hugill, namely: “Page for description – page for a song”. So, each song contains a very extended description that highlights the history of the song. We can find there, the way how sung, and the specific vocabulary. As an example of how amazing these descriptions are, let me give you one example. An example of a super detailed description can be shanty “Ranzo”. We can read in this description even about the Polish accent that the title “Ranzo” was a Polish Jew.
How many shanties you can find in the book?
To point out, this book contains over 40 great sea shanties, several of each type. So we can learn about all types of work in relation to the shanties accompanying these works. The first part of this book presents descriptions of the types of sea shanties. The book contains great, extensive descriptions of shanties. Also, contain descriptions of the work environment depending on the type of shanty used. So, we will learn about, among others, shanties for windlass, capstan, pump (brake and Downton), halyard, stamp ‘n go, etc.
The amount of knowledge contains in this book really impressed me. The book also contains illustrations done by an author. Those illustrations show us, sailors, in action when they work and sing shanty.
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