Lucy Broadwood was born in Scotland, a member of the famous piano-manufacturing family. The family moved to Lyne on the Surrey Sussex Border when Broadwood was a girl. After the death of her father in 1893 she moved to London for the remainder of her life. She was aware of folk music from an early age, her uncle John having published a collection of songs from the Sussex Weald in the 1840s, and began to collect herself in the late 1880s. She helped form the Folk-Song Society in 1898, becoming Secretary from 1904 to 1909 and editing its Journal from 1904 to 1910 and again after 1914. She was elected President of the Society in 1928, the year before her death.
The consequence of Lucy being Secretary of the Folk-Song Society and editor of its Journal is that her manuscript collection became an amalgam of the fieldwork of many collectors, including her own. Roughly one half of the songs included are from the likes of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Anne Gilchrist, Henry Hammond, Ella Leather, Percy Merrick, George Butterworth, Clive Carey, Frank Kidson and Cecil Sharp. Broadwood herself collected from 22 named singers during a 25 year period, including the formidable Henry Burstow in Sussex, from whom Vaughan Williams also noted songs.
Lucy and J.A. Fuller-Maitland produced the influential English County Songs in 1893, which was followed by English Traditional Songs and Carols in 1908 (with Lucy as sole editor). According to an obituary, 'scarcely a number of the Journal has appeared without some valuable contribution from her hand, and many have been almost entirely her own from beginning to end.' She also pioneered the use of the phonograph in collecting songs, the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) collection of wax cylinders including recordings of songs from the Scottish islands made by Lucy in London in 1908 and 1909. This collection now resides with The British Library's National Sound Archive, digital copies of which are available via the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML).
The folk music related material in Lucy's papers was donated to the Folk-Song Society in 1931 and now resides with VWML, while her more private papers found their way to the Surrey Record Office in 1977, subsequently removed to the Surrey History Centre in Woking. More recently, her working diaries have been added to the collection in Surrey.
Ralph Vaughan Williams