For three centuries, ballad-singers thrived at the heart of life in London. One of history's great paradoxes, they were routinely disparaged and persecuted, living on the margins, yet playing a central part in the social, cultural, and political life of the nation. This history spans the Georgian heyday and Victorian decline of those who sang in the city streets in order to sell printed songs. Focusing on the people who plied this musical trade, Oskar Cox Jensen interrogates their craft and their repertoire, the challenges they faced and the great changes in which they were caught up. From orphans to veterans, prostitutes to preachers, ballad-singers sang of love and loss, the soil and the sea, mediating the events of the day to an audience of hundreds of thousands. Complemented by sixty-two recorded songs, this study demonstrates how ballad-singers are figures of central importance in the cultural, social, and political processes of continuity, contestation, and change across the nineteenth-century world.
Roger Parker - King’s College London
Jacky Bratton - Royal Holloway
Ian Haywood Source: Modern Philology
Katherine Craik Source: Times Literary Supplement
Steve Roud Source: Folk Music Journal
Robin Ganev Source: Journal of British Studies
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