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British Music Hall (Kindle)

An Illustrated History

Social History Victorian Era 20th Century

By Richard Anthony Baker
Imprint: Pen & Sword Social
File Size: 88.1 MB (.mobi)
Pages: 292
Illustrations: 100
ISBN: 9781473837621
eBook Released: 12th May 2014


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'The music hall ...had no place for reticence; it was downright, it shouted, it made noise, it enjoyed itself and made the people enjoy themselves as well.' W.J. MACQUEEN POPE

Music Hall lies at the root of all modern popular entertainment. With stars such as Marie Lloyd, Harry Lauder and Dan Leno, it reached its glorious, brassy height between 1890 and the First World War. In the first book on this subject for many years, Richard Anthony Baker whisks us off on a colourful and nostalgic tour of the rise and fall of British music hall.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century people sang traditional songs in taverns for entertainment. This was so popular that rooms started to be added to inns for shows to be staged, and, before long, songs were being specially composed and purpose-built theatres were springing up everywhere.

Britain's working class had, for the first time, its own form of public entertainment and its own breed of stars. The colour and vitality attracted serious writers and artists, as well as the future Edward VII, and music hall became simultaneously the haunt of the working classes and the avant-garde.

Including stories of a clergyman who wrote music-hall sketches, a hall in Glasgow where luckless entertainers were pulled off stage by a long hooked pole, and Cockney dictionaries that helped Americans understand touring British performers, this book is a hugely engaging slice of social history, rich in humour, tragedy and bathos.

As featured on BBC Radio Lincolnshire and in the Sunderland Echo.

Referenced in 'Resources' part of The Magic of Music Hall article

WDYTYA? Magazine, August 2019

As featured in

Hartlepool Mail

The book unfolds almost like an entrancing night out at the music hall, each chapter an enjoyable and memorable turn.

A book that is colourfully enjoyable, packed solid with valuable information and capable of reviving such cheerful memories is to be highly prized.

The Call Boy - Official Journal of the British Music Hall Society

In British Music Hall, author Richard Anthony Baker charts the rise and fall of this form of popular entertainment, exploring the colourful lives of performers, the well-known songs which found their way into music hall folklore and of course, the hundreds of music halls which were packed to the rafters each time a new show debuted. There are anecdotes of well-loved stars such as Will Fyffe and Harry Lauder, as well as information on the various venues around the country.

Scottish Memories magazine

As seen in the Leicester Mercury.

Leicester Mercury

Mr Baker's book is well-illustrated and provides a wonderful overview of the venues, artists and characters of this very British form of entertainment...a fun read.

Leicester Mercury

Leigh author Richard Anthony Baker has now firmly established himself as the foremost authority on the British music hall with his latest book, 'British Music Hall – an Illustrated History'. It is all there in this 261-page book, fully illustrated – and with a hilarious note to end the book entitled the 'Final Curtain' in which the great comedian Jimmy Wheeler answered the question: 'What killed music hall?' His analysis is worth the cost of the book alone. Make sure you read it.

Leigh Times

About Richard Anthony Baker

During 30 years at the BBC, Richard Anthony Baker wrote and presented music hall and variety programmes for Radios Two and Three. For Radio Five Live, he devised the world’s first obituaries programme, Brief Lives, producing its first 300 editions. In 1990, he published a slim biography of Marie Lloyd and in 2011 An Old Time Variety followed. He contributes regularly to The Stage and the British Music Hall Society’s magazine, The Call Boy.

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