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Broadside ballad entitled 'Bonny Helen'


This ballad begins: 'ON Atrick side in Yarrow, / a place pleasant and fair, / I thought on bonny Helen'. The text preceding this ballad reads: 'A New Song. / To the Tune of the Yellow Haird Ladie.'

The phrase 'A New Song' was included to try and make this ballad seem like a more attractive purchase. This is also true of woodcuts included along the top of the plain page. Woodcuts were expensive to produce and so they were often reused on a number of sheets. Broadsides were sold in vast numbers by pedlars on the street and as a result competition was fierce.

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 published: 1701-   shelfmark: S.302.b.2(033)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Bonny Helen'
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