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Collect Britain: Victorian Popular Music

The British Library

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This collection presents 188 British songs and piano pieces from the mid-to-late 1800s. Each piece is presented with its illustrated cover and the song lyrics are legible, allowing the music to serve as a window into Victorian-era British culture. The songs address a wide range of subjects—from love to comedy to politics. Performed in music halls targeted at working-class audiences, but affordable for private use primarily to members of the middle class, they also present the opportunity to examine Victorian social structures. Each song is accompanied by a one-paragraph explanation and detailed publication information, including date of publication and the names of the composer, lyricists, artist, and printer. The collection is both browsable and searchable, and all pages can be enlarged to full screen and viewed in detail through a zoom function.

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