Article written when Harry was 68

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The following article was written when Harry was 68 and printed in the national press

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I Have a Story


His Songs Amused the World and Now-

He has made the world laugh for Fifty years with his songs. All the most famous old-timers of the music-halls have sung them. He began with a fee of seven and six pence ;in his palmiest days 10 was a wonderful sum. Not a lot for the world to pay for its laughter, and now -

When young Harry Wincott, song in hand, gained an interview with The Great Vance, one of the old-time music-hall artists, and sold a song for 7s. 6d. he thought he was on the way to making a fortune.

He was 16 then, a ledger clerk with tunes in his brain. "When you know the way it's easy," he sang, and threw up his job. With a stock of paper and those three half-crowns he began to write songs for his living.

But he found men who were cleverer than he was : for a long time he starved, until one of his songs was bought for 4. It was sung by Vesta Tilley.

He stopped thinking in half-crowns after that - he was really on the way to success!

"The Old Dun Cow Caught Fire" was sung all over the Empire. The proprietor of one Old Dun Cow Inn had the decorators in on the strength of it and sent Wincott a case of whisky.

He rarely received 10 for a song even in his hey-day, and one which was translated into five languages brought in 4.

The singer and publisher of another song which was widely translated made thousands of pounds, where he made only pennies. "I don't envy them. I'm alive : they are dead!" says Wincott.

One of his compositions, "I'm Getting Ready for My Mother-in-law," nearly got him into serious trouble. His wife sent her mother a copy, and she was in bed for a week after reading it. Her son-in-law had written it on purpose, she said!

In 1915, when Wincott had three sons in the trenches, the American Ambassador wrote to thank him for "The Sadness of Her Sadness" ; it was, said the Ambassador, the only comic song he could play on the piano to his children without objection.

For 50 years he has wandered around London, seeking inspiration for his verses. "All Through Sticking to a Soldier" was written after seeing a young woman in tears in the street. "Down the Dials," said a policeman when Wincott asked him where he was in a fog. So he wrote a song called "Down the Dials" and Gus Elen bought it.

He composed for Dan Leno, Marie Lloyd, Charles Austin, The Great Vance, Vesta Tilley, Florrie Ford, Kate Carney and hundreds of others equally famous.

He is 68 now, but his motto is still "Nil desperandum."


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