The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballad entitled 'The Wee Lassie Sitting at the Door'


This ballad begins: 'There is a wee lassie sitting at the door a' her lane, / And the wee thing is sabbing unco sair, / For their's nane nane kens the wee weariet wane, / Couren in frae the cold on the stair. Included at the top of the sheet is a woodcut portrait of a young woman.

This rather saccharine ballad was intended to tug at the heartstrings of the broadside readership. Tales of woe involving neglected and abused children were common and probably sold well. In most cases the ballad ends with the death of the child and, as a result, an end to his or her suffering. The young girl in this ballad has been forced on to the streets to beg and steal by a man, who is very possibly her stepfather. Unable to do either, and unable to return home for fear of being beaten, the young girl eventually dies.

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.

previous pageprevious          
Probable period of publication: 1860-1880   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(084)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Wee Lassie Sitting at the Door'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland