Rather lyrical poem with classical illusions, perhaps aimed at the moneyed class.
The author of this song, John Cunningham, was born in Dublin in 1729. Penning his first play at the age of seventeen, Cunningham settled in Newcastle as a member of a dramatic company. After striking up a friendship with the owner of the Newcastle Chronicle, he began writing short notices and verses to subsidise his income. In 1766 he published a volume of poems, examples of which can be found in Allan's Tyneside Songs. John Cunningham died at his home in Union Street on September 18th, 1773, at the age of forty-four.
Newcastle was the second largest producer of chapbooks in the country at the time of this book's publication. 'The Newcastle Songster' 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 'The Skipper's Wedding' to 'Newcastle Fair', the book has offerings from well known Tyneside composers such as John Selkirk and would have been extremely popular among the local population.