Song describing the practice of having a weekly shave in the open air on Market Day on Newcastle's Quayside. The barber is a woman (open air barbers chiefly were women) who has an impatient queue.
The author of the song, William Stephenson, was born in Gateshead on June 28th, 1763. A schoolmaster for the greater part of his life Stephenson wrote a number of well-known songs such as 'Quayside Shaver' and 'Skipper's wedding'. He also collected songs and poems and was well-known for his descriptions of local Gateshead eccentrics and famous characters. Stephenson died aged 73 on 12th August, 1836.
'The Newcastle Songster', from which this song was taken, was printed by J. Marshall, one of the most prominent chapbook printers in Newcastle during the early nineteenth century. It is rather difficult to date the book, but as we know that Marshall didn't move to his Flesh Market premises until 1811, it is possible to say that it certainly wasn't published before this date. The appearance of much of the books contents in John Bell's 'Rhymes of the Northern Bards', published in 1812, could also indicate that the book was printed around the same time. However which was printed first, can not be established for certain.
The book contains some of the region's best known traditional songs. From 'Weel may the keel row' to 'Canny Newcastle', the book has offerings from well known Tyneside composers such as John Selkirk and Thomas Thompson, and would have been extremely popular among the local population.