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Broadside ballad entitled 'Mary, the Maid of the Don'


Verse 1 begins: 'On the banks of the Don where I wandered with pleasure, / Where life's smiling visage invites me to roam'. There are no publication details attached to this sheet, but a woodcut illustration has been included at the top of the sheet. It shows a young fishwife, standing on a beach, with her nets.

The narrator of this piece is reminiscing over his encounter with Mary, which occurred along the banks of the River Don. The woodcut at the top of the sheet does help enhance the understanding of the text, and would have been especially attractive to members of the audience who were illiterate or only semi-literate. The girl is intended to be young and comely. Her station and vocation in life and the nature of area, with the allusion to the beach and nets, are all clearly expressed here.

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(197)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Mary, the Maid of the Don'
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