14 MAY 1927, Page 35

So many books concerning the shanty have been written within

recent years that Miss C. Fox Smith feels she owes her readers an apology for pursuing the subject further. As a matter of fact, A Book of Shanties (Methuen, 6s.), with its delightfully readable introduction, is quite the most authorita- ' live short book dealing with these old working songs of the great days of sail that we have yet seen. " The Poet Laureate of the Merchant Service " knows how a shanty should be treated—" Imagine," she writes, " the feelings of some hairy shellback of days gone by, if he were to be set down suddenly in a modern concert hall where a highly trained artiste in what he would no doubt term a b'iled shirt' was giving a strictly bowdlerized rendering of one of his spiciest favourites " • —and her theories of how shanties originated and so on are thoroughly sound. Most of the shanties, words and melodies, which she reproduces each with a short history, have appeared, often hashed out of recognition, in various collections, but there are one or two which make their appearance in this valuable little book for the first time.