My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall

Front Cover
HarperCollins UK, Sep 13, 2012 - History - 448 pages

Shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize; former prime minister John Major takes a remarkable journey into his own unconventional family past to tell the richly colourful story of the British music hall.

Music hall was one of the glories of Victorian England. Sentimental, vulgar, but patriotic and champion of the underdog, it held a mirror to the audiences’ hopes, fears and the general absurdity of life.

Vast, smoke-filled auditoriums were packed every night throughout Britain. Popular performers, such as Marie Lloyd and Vesta Tilley, were among the highest-paid and most celebrated figures in the land.

This was the world that John Major’s father Tom entered at the age of twenty-one as a comedian and singer. In ‘My Old Man’, the former prime minister tells his father’s story as a springboard for an entertaining history of the music hall, from its origins in Elizabethan times through to its heyday in the nineteenth century and eventual decline with the rise of radio and cinema in the twentieth century.

Packed with colourful anecdotes, this warm-hearted account captures a golden, bygone age of entertainment.


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User Review  - pierthinker - LibraryThing

The subtitle of this book gives a very clear indication of the approach taken by John Major in this history. Major's parents were music hall stars (albeit in the twilight of that genre) who spent ... Read full review


Leaving the Stage
Tom and Kitty
The Road to Music Hall
The Basement and the Cellars
At the Fringe
The First Pioneer
The Swells and the Costers
Warp and Weft
The Exotic and the Bizarre
Amusement of the People
The Literati and the Artists
Enterprise and Outrage
Overseas Music Hall
The Seeds of Decline

The SerioComediennes 8 Marie Lloyd
Dan Leno and Little Tich
The Comic and the Minstrel Contents
Girls Who Were Boys
Top Hats and Black Faces
The Business of Pleasure
General Index
List of Illustrations
Music Hall

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About the author (2012)

John Major was born and brought up in South London. After leaving school at sixteen he went on to win the Lambeth seat for the Conservative party in 1968. He was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Huntingdon between 1979 and 2001 and served in the Cabinet from 1987 to 1990. He was Prime Minister between 1990 and 1997. He was awarded the Companion of Honour in 1999, and became a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter in 2005. Since leaving office he has taken up business and charitable appointments.

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