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Broadside entitled 'The Monkey Barber'


This broadside story begins: ' An Account of the Wonderful Monkey of Glasgow, Who turned Barber, to Shave the Irish Farmers who came over to reap the Harvest, with a description of the Ludicrous Catastrophe attending his first experiment in that Profession.' Although the name of the publisher is not included and the sheet is not dated, it was printed in Edinburgh and cost one penny.

This light-hearted story pokes fun at Irish visitors to Scotland, playing on the old myth that the Irish are rather slow on the uptake. The ballad tells the amusing and fantastical story of how an Irish farmer was cut to shreds by a monkey while visiting a barber's shop for a shave. It seems that the Irishman was too stupid to realise that he was being shaved by a monkey - cue ensuing confusion and chaos all round. Continuing the theme of stereotyping according to nationality, this 'shaggy monkey's tale' ends with the injured Irishman meeting another Irishman, and agreeing to go for a whisky with him to drown his sorrows.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Probable date of publication: 1825   shelfmark: F.3.a.13(5)
Broadside entitled 'The Monkey Barber'
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