Minstrel Memories: The Story of Burnt Cork Minstrelsy in Great Britain from 1836 to 1927
by Reynolds, Harry
London: Alston Rivers Ltd.. Very Good. 1928. First Edition. Hardcover. (no dust jacket) [spine slightly turned, mild bumping to bottom corners, otherwise a good sound clean book]. (B&W plates w/photos, facsimiles) A chronicle of "one of the most remarkable and picturesque periods in the annals of British Amusements" -- "an authentic record of Ethiopian Minstrelsy in Great Britain." Extensively illustrated with photographs of many of the minstrel-show stars of the day, reproductions of cartoon illustrations, playbills, stage scenes, etc. The final 32-page chapter of the book is the author's account of his own contributions to this long-gone form of racially-insensitive entertainment (and that's being kind), the Harry Reynolds' Minstrels, active beginning in the 1880s. (Trigger warning: if the n-word gives you conniptions you'd best not delve too deeply into this book.) One particularly distasteful anecdote concerns the one time Mr. Reynolds "included a real coloured comedian in my troupe," but came to regret it: "When steady he worked like the nigger of tradition and proved most useful, but when he went on the drink it was a case of 'razors in the air.' Then he would quickly burn all his money and pawn his banjo -- he left a trail of banjos behind him -- and later chase me all over the town begging for half-crowns so that he could see a doctor; failing that as he felt so bad he was sure to die. . . . But in spite of my refusal to hand him over further half-crowns the villain insisted on living." (I mean, really, how dare he!?) . (Inventory #: 23646)
Unusual, Uncommon and Obscure Books in many (but not all) fields, with particular interest in American Culture (Popular and Unpopular), Art, Literature, Life and People from the 1920s through the 1960s.
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