French, William Percy

(1854-1920)
   Born near Roscommon, Ireland, he graduated with a degree in civil engineering from Trinity College, Dublin, then worked on a government drainage scheme in County Cavan. At university he developed his remarkable talents for song writing, dramatics, banjo playing and watercolor painting. Through the medium of the Dublin comic weekly, The Jarvey, of which he was editor for two years, he promoted a series of concerts throughout Ireland under the name of "The Jarvey Concert Company." In 1891 he went into partnership with Houston Collisson, who wrote much of the music for the operas they produced, including "The Irish Girl." In 1900 he moved to London, where he became known as Percy French. They toured Canada, the USA and the West Indies in 1910, and the ski resorts of Switzerland, and visited Ireland every year. While performing in Glasgow in 1920 he was taken ill and died some days later in Formby, Lancashire. Some of his songs: "Abdul Abulbul Amir," "Come Back Paddy Reilly," "Mulligan's Masquerade," "Phil the Fluther's Ball," "The Emigrant's Letter," "The Mountains of Mourne," "The Oklahoma Rose," "When Erin Wakes."
   Sources: Boosey & Hawkes Opera (http://www.boosey.com/pages/opera/moreDetails.asp?musicID=7494). Biography of Percy French (http://users2.ev1.net/French, William Percysmyth/linernotes/personel/FrenchPercy.htm), and at (http://www.pdevlinz.btinternet.co.uk/percyfrench.htm). Oldpoetry (www.oldpoetry.com). The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 (http://www.columbiagrangers.org). The Contemplator's Very Short Biography of Percy French (http://www.contemplator.com/history/pfrench.html). The Copper Family, Coppersongs: The Irish Girl (http://www.thecopperfamily.com/songs/coppersongs/irish.html). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia).

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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