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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Dark Girl Dressed in Blue'


This ballad begins: 'When first in Glasgow I arrived, the truth I will unfold, / I had a pocketbook with me, well filled with notes and gold'. A woodcut of a black woman carrying a basket and wearing European dress illustrates the top of the sheet. She is in a tropical setting as there is a palm tree behind her.

Not unusually, the woodcut used here bears no relation to the sheet's subject matter, the girl in question is dark haired, not dark skinned, and the tale is set in Glasgow, not the Pacific! The ballad is about a man who meets a pretty, but untrustworthy, girl. After handing over a forged note given to him by the girl, he is arrested and charged. This story is very similar to the traditional song 'The Black Velvet Band'.

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: 1850-1870   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(073)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Dark Girl Dressed in Blue'
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