Work, Henry Clay (1832 - 1884)


Henry Clay Work, born on October 1, 1832, grew up in Middletown, Connecticut, the son of an active opponent of slavery, who helped thousands of slaves to escape north. Work took employment as a printer in Chicago in 1854, but in 1853, 1876-77, and 1882-83, Work wrote 75 songs, at first encouraged by the minstrel E. P. Christy, and then under contract to Root and Cady, music publishers. His only equals as composers of songs in the Civil War period were Stephen Foster and George Frederick Root. Work's most famous lyrics include Come Home, Father, Kingdom Coming (1862), Marching through Georgia, and Grandfather's Clock, which sold nearly one million copies. Work died on June 8, 1884, and was buried in Spring Grove cemetery, Hartford, beside his wife. A collected edition of 39 of his songs was published by his nephew Bertram G. Work.

  • Cockrell. Dale. "Work, Henry Clay." American National Biography Online. American Council of Learned Societies: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Hill, Richard S. "The Mysterious Chord of Henry Clay Work." Notes 10 (1953): 211-25, 367-90.
Given Name: 
Henry Clay
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Birth Date: 
October 1, 1832
Death Date: 
June 8, 1884


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