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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Dark Girl Dressed in Blue'


Verse 1 begins: 'When first in Glasgow I arrived, the truth I will unfold, / I had a pocketbook with me, well filled with notes and gold'. There is a woodcut of a black woman, holding a basket standing in front of a palm tree.

This woodcut can be found on other broadsides held in the National Library of Scotland's collection. It was quite common for woodcut blocks to be used across a wide range of sheets as they were expensive to create and so had to be used to maximum benefit. The outlay for the block, however, was off-set against the increase in perceived value of the sheet. Not only was it more decorative, but those people who were illiterate and enjoying the sheet read to them, could also derive benefit in the sheet. This image with its exotic palm trees and unusual character would probably have been an attractive purchase.

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: 1860-1880   shelfmark: RB.m.168(133)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Dark Girl Dressed in Blue'
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