Poster advertising Harry Hunter's benefit at the Royal Agricultural Hall
Printer: Poulter & Burns
The Minstrel Show originated in the United States, largely from the negro songs performed on stage by Thomas Dartmouth Rice. Inspired by his success, other "burnt cork" artistes - usually white men blacked up - developed their own acts featuring songs, smart patter and dancing.
The Mohawk Minstrels billed on this poster were semi-professionals organised by brothers James and William Francis. In October 1873, the brothers took out a lease on the Berners Hall, immediately adjoining the Agricultural Hall in Islington. Their success was ensured when the popular songwriter and performer Harry Hunter joined their troupe. A prolific writer, he penned a number of ballads for the Mohawks. Hunter's songs were full of wholesome sentiment, quaint wisdom and philosophy: 'Do not nurse your anger', 'The baby is the angel in the house', 'Tears are blessings, let them flow'. His talents were undoubtedly responsible for the great popularity and continued success of the Mohawk Minstrels.