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Broadside entitled 'Life in Edinburgh!'


This broadside begins: 'A full, true and particular account of the narrow escape of a Gentleman from a Den in the Grass-market, who was nearly Burked by a crew of noted characters, well known in this city, he having been seized by the throat by a man and a number of women, who, after losing his coat-tails, and being severely wounded, with difficulty made his escape - (Told by Himself)'.

The term 'burked' refers to being murdered for the purposes of dissection. To avoid the presence of suspicious wounds, and to leave the body intact, the preferred method used by those committing the burking was suffocation. The term came into being after the notorious case of William Burke and William Hare in the early nineteenth-century. Both men engineered a scheme whereby they supplied fresh bodies for dissection using murderous means. Although William Burke was hanged for his crimes, William Hare agreed to appear as a King's Witness in return for his freedom.

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 date of publication: 1820-1830   shelfmark: L.C.1268
Broadside entitled 'Life in Edinburgh!'
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