to Music Hall Performers
MUSIC HALL - RECOMMENDED BOOKS
by Roger Wilmut
Many of these books are long since out of print, but I have listed
them as you may be able to find copies in second-hand shops or
libraries. I have modestly put my own book at the end of the list
THE MELODIES LINGER ON by W. McQueen-Pope (W.H.Allen,
1951). The classic textbook on Victorian and Edwardian
IDOLS OF THE HALLS by H. Chance Newton (Heath Cranton 1928,
facsimile reprint issued 1975, ISBN 0 7158 1047 2). First-hand
account of the Edwardian period, though heavily laden with unfunny
BRITISH MUSIC HALL by Raymond Mander & Joe Mitchinson
(Gentry Books 1974, ISBN 0 85614 036 8). Many photographs and a brief
review of the whole period.
BRITISH MUSIC HALL - AN ILLUSTRATED WHO'S WHO FROM 1850 TO THE
PRESENT DAY by Roy Busby (Paul Elek, 1976, ISBN 0 236 400533 3).
Useful encyclopaedia, although with some odd omissions and a number
MUSIC HALL IN BRITAIN by David Cheshire (David &
Charles 1974, ISBN 0 715 36212 7). A review of the 'infrastructure'
of the business. Includes plans of several famous halls.
FUNNY WAY TO BE A HERO by John Fisher (Frederick Muller,
1973, ISBN 0 584 10097 3; paperback Paladin, 1976, ISBN 0 586 08240
9). Pen-portraits of many comedians: with script extracts.
THE NORTHERN MUSIC HALL by G.J. Mellor (Frank Graham, 1970,
ISBN 0 900409 85 1). Masses of fine detail about Music-hall in
Northern Britain, carefully researched.
THE GRAND ORDER OF WATER RATS - A LEGACY OF LAUGHTER by
Charlie Chester (W.H.Allen, 1984, ISBN 0 491 03251 X). Heavily
anecdotal bu interesting review of performers who were members of the
'Grand order of Water Rats', the music hall performers' club.
MAKE 'EM LAUGH by Eric Midwinter (Allen & Unwin 1979,
ISBN 0 04 792011 4). A study of several important comedians.
THEY MADE US LAUGH by Geoff J. Mellor (George Kelsall,
1982, ISBN 0 9505577 4 9). Photos and brief biographies of many
SWEET SATURDAY NIGHT by Colin MacInnes (Macgibbon &
Kee, 1967). Sociological examination of music-hall and popular
BRITISH MUSIC HALL ON RECORD by Brian Rust (General
Gramophone Publications, 1979, ISBN 0902470 12 4). Discography of
many music-hall and variety artists, giving dates and details of
original 78s. Some odd omissions - but see next two entries - and
numerous tiny mistakes, but invaluable to the collector.
LONDON MUSICAL SHOWS ON RECORD 1897-1976 by Brian Rust
(General Gramophone Publications, 1977, ISBN 0902470 07 8). Includes
discographies of numerous variety performers who also took part in
musical shows - including Tate, Askey, Flanagan & Allen,
THE COMPLETE ENTERTAINMENT DISCOGRAPHY by Brian Rust with
Allen G. Debus (Arlington House (USA), 1973, ISBN 0 87000 150 7).
Hardly 'complete', but includes several entries of interest,
including Gracie Fields who is not in the previous two books listed
STRANGE FEATS AND CLEVER TURNS by Charlie Holland (Holland
& Palmer, ISBN 0 9532373 0 3). I haven't read this: it covers
speciality acts at the turn of the 20th Century, a subject ignored by
most music-hall historians, so it's a useful addition to the
And finally, my own book KINDLY LEAVE THE
STAGE! - THE STORY OF VARIETY 1919-1960 (details in picture
caption, right). Most of the books on music-hall regard the period
after 1918 as of no interest: certainly the style was different from
the traditional Edwardian music-hall, but there were many fascinating
performers and much fine and well-documented material. My book deals
with theatrical Variety (the term which tended to replace Music-Hall)
and also radio and television work by variety performers.
There is a separate
page dealing with my other books.