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£18 | £15 EFDSS and TSF members

Tickets available on the door

More info

Cambridge University Library

Broadside Day 2018


Milstein Room, Cambridge University Library

The Broadside Day is the annual one-day conference for people interested in Street Literature in all its fascinating aspects - broadsides, chapbooks, songsters, woodcuts, engravings, last dying speeches, catchpennies, wonder-tales, almanacs, fortune-tellers, and all kinds of cheap printed material sold to ordinary people in city streets, at country fairs, and from pedlar's packs up and down the country in past centuries. The Day consists of short papers, presentations, displays, discussions, and is suitable for beginners and experts alike, who will all enjoy its lively and informal atmosphere.

Street literature, in the form of broadside ballads, was first produced in the early 16th century, and was at first concentrated in London, but later spread to every part of the British Isles and lasted into the 20th century. But its glorious heyday was in Victorian times when tens of thousands of items were produced every year by jobbing printers everywhere. The material was often very badly printed, on the cheapest quality of paper, and might be genuine news or a complete fiction, but for most of this time it was one of the only forms of reading matter readily available to the poor, and is therefore tremendously interesting to a wide range of modern-day researchers and enthusiasts.

This year’s Broadside Day will be hosted by the Rare Books Department of Cambridge University, which is home to the biggest single collection of 18th and 19th century broadsides in Britain, comprising over 30,000 ballads compiled by Sir Frederic Madden, Keeper of the Department of Manuscripts at the British Museum.


David Stenton—The Forth Valley Songster
Oskar Cox Jensen—Never Look a Ballad-Singer in the Mouth
Georgina Prineppi—From the Garden to the Street: Pleasure Garden Music and Broadsides in Eighteenth-Century London
Jonathan Cooper—Children's Chapbooks
David Hopkin—Lacemakers, Ballads and Broadsides
E. Wyn James—'The Shepherd’s World’: The Earliest Welsh Broadside Ballad
Colin Bargery—Adventures in a Steamboat: A Broadside history of the impact of a new technology.
David Atkinson—Street Literature in Petticoat Lane, 1740s–1760s
Giles Bergel—The Stationers’ Company and the English Ballad Trade, 1550-1800

The Broadside Day is organised jointly by the English Folk Dance & Song Society (EFDSS) and the Traditional Song Forum (TSF), and supported by Cambridge University Library. For more information, please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Advance sales have now closed, but tickets will be available on the door.

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