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Broadside ballad entitled 'Bonny Jean of Aberdeen'


The first verse reads: 'My Bonny Jean long have I been, / a seeking thee from Morn to Ev'n, / Thy boony [sic] Face so full of Grace, / thy like is not in Aberdeen.' It was advertised as an excellent new song and probably sold for one penny. Unfortunately, no publication details have been included on this sheet.

Although ballads were firmly rooted in the oral tradition and, in many cases, were already well-known amongst the populace, their publication on broadsides proved very lucrative for producers. As there was no copyright fee to pay or permission to obtain, broadside publishers were free to produce any number of ballads at will. With only the cost of the paper and ink to consider they were often viewed as a money-spinner!

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: 1750-   shelfmark: APS.4.94.25
Broadside ballad entitled 'Bonny Jean of Aberdeen'
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