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Title : Jack an' Nan

Also known as : Blyth and Tyneside poems and songs ;

Format : song

Composer : Anderson, James (b.1825)

Production details : publisher : J. Fraser
Scribe Office, Blyth, Northumberland

Date : 1898 (circa)

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Collection name : Collection of Blyth and Tyneside poems and songs


Song about a couple who are unable to read. They look at their books and imagine the pictures coming alive. It was not uncommon for illiterate people to own books at this time. Many working class people bought books, pamphlets, and broadsides, simply for the prestige of owning them. A large section of the working class at this time would have had little or no reading skills. The Education Act, which ensured that every child should have an elementary education, was not introduced until 1870. Previous to this it was common for children to commence work at an early age, many working in local pits from the age of nine.

This song forms part of a selection of songs from 'Blyth and Tyneside poems and songs' by James Anderson. The book was published in Blyth by J. Fraser, around 1898. The songs reflect the characters, industries and landscapes of Tyneside, with many such as 'Be kind te yer wife', touching on domestic life at the time. The author, James Anderson, was born in the village of Earsdon, in 1825. Following his father into the pits, Anderson held the position of lamp man at Elswick Colliery in Newcastle for over 20 years. His early songs gained merit in the Weekly Chronicle song competitions and the composer went on to have material published in 'Chater's Tyneside Comic Annuals' and other publications. The author was apparently as well known in his day as famous Tyneside composer Joe Wilson, although his popularity has not endured and he is not well known today.


Collection description : A collection of songs and poems by James Anderson

First line : Noo Jack an' Nan was man an' wife

Subject heading : poverty, health and welfare

Keywords : literacy & education & school

Period : 1861-1900

Page numbers: pp.57-58


Held by : Border History Museum

Copyright : Item reproduced by kind permission of Border History Museum


t :: 0191 433 8430

f :: 0191 433 8424

e :: libraries@gateshead.gov.uk

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FARNE Folk Archive Resource North East