The Manchester Ballads

Folk singer Eliza Carthy explores the remarkable tradition of ballads in Manchester during the Industrial Revolution. With insight from Andrew Biswell, Professor of English at Manchester Metropolitan University, Michael Powell, Librarian of Chetham’s Library, and Jennifer Reid, the ‘broadside balladress of the Manchester region’, Carthy unearths some of the rudest, and most woeful songs of the past.

Housed at Chetham’s Library, the ballads capture responses to an array of contemporary events including industrial disasters, murders, battles and deaths. Of particular interest are the ballads of the Irish community in Manchester’s ‘Little Ireland’ slum, praising the beauty of Irish women such as ‘Nora, the pride of Kildare’ or considering questions of national identity. Masters of comedy or sentimentality, The Manchester Ballads provide rich sources of social history with a lasting influence on mainstream poetry today.

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