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The Wild Man of Borneo

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Alternative title: The Wild Man of Bonio

Performer: Denley, Tom
Place Collected: Brockhampton
Date collected: 1957
Collector: Kennedy, Peter
Roud Number: 2145

This nonesense song was apparently written by an Englishman George Le Brunn (1863-1905). Le Brunn wrote several songs including “Oh, Mr Porter”. Few versions have been noted by collectors, possibly because it was regarded as too trival. but versions turn up in the English speaking world from 1908 onwards and it has wider oral circulation than the records suggest.

The original “Wild Men of Borneo” were 2 brothers, who were dwarf strongmen, Hiram W. and Barney Davis, who had nothing to do with Borneo but were born in England and Ohio respectively. Their pridigious strength, out of proportion to their size, came to the attention of the Hiram and Bailey circus and they were recruited to exhibit for the circus in 1852.

Notes by Gwilym Davies, February 2020