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Broadside ballad entitled 'A Love of God Shave'


Verse 1: 'It was in this town, not far from this spot, / A barber he opened a snug little shop, / He at Birmingham had been for many a year, / And he shav'd all the natives so clean and so clear.' The broadside carries no date, nor any publication details.

This grotesque comic ballad is about a barber who uses a broken, rusty razor on any customers who request a shave on credit. One of the notable aspects of the ballad is its portrayal of an Irish customer, using a transcription of an exaggerated Irish accent and various stereotypical phrases such as 'O, by japers', and referring to the customer as 'Paddy' throughout. Anti-Irish satire and propaganda had been common in British society for many years but probably worsened during the nineteenth century because of the Irish struggle for home rule and increasing numbers of Irish workers coming to Britain.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

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Probable period of publication: 1860-1880   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(082)
Broadside ballad entitled 'A Love of God Shave'
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