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.