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Poster advertising the South London Palace music hall

Poster advertising the South London Palace music hall

Printer: Unknown

Medium: Lithograph

Date: 1882

Shelfmark: Evan.953

Item number: 953

Genre: Poster

This play-bill for an evening's entertainment at the South London Palace in 1882 features several of the most well known performers of the time, including Bessie Bellwood and a character simply referred to as 'MacDermott'. Popularly known as 'The Great MacDermott' or even 'The Statesman of the Halls', G.H. MacDermott was one of the leading music hall stars of the late 1800s. Well known for his patriotism, he was perhaps most famous for his 1878 song 'We Don't Want to Fight'. The chorus ran: "We don't want to fight/ Yet by Jingo! if we do/We've got the ships/ We've got the men/ And got the money too."

The song was introduced into MacDermott's repertoire around the time Lord Beaconsfield sent a British fleet into Turkish waters as a buffer against Russian advances. Its lyrics were used in the press both in support of Beaconsfield and against him. In particular, it popularised the modern sense of the word "jingoism", meaning an aggressive attitude towards foreign powers. While the song was a huge coup for MacDermott, in the long term it probably harmed his career: many music hall managers were reluctant to employ him because of his inflammatory effect on audiences and public opinion.

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