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Broadside ballad entitled 'Banks of Sweet Dundee'


This ballad begins: 'It's of a farmer's daughter, so beautiful I'm told, / Her parents died and left her five hundred pounds in gold, / She lived with her uncle, the cause of all her woe, / You soon shall hear, this maiden fair did prove his overthrow.'

The woodcut carried at the top of this sheet shows a shepherd standing amongst countryside, looking out to sea at a ship. Although many had access to the information on this sheet, not all of the audience could read. This picture means not only can they relate to the sheet, but they would have gained a rough understanding of the text. The symbols are fairly apt for Dundee, which had a busy harbour, surrounded by a fertile and rolling, rural hinterland. This is one of the most famous and widespread of folksongs and versions of it were also published in England and North America. It is also known as 'Undaunted Mary' and 'The farmer's daughter'.

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: 1880-1900   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(110a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Banks of Sweet Dundee'
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