‘These Happy Effects on the Character of the British Sailor’: Family Life in Sea Songs of the late Georgian period.
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Songs about sailors were popular during the late Georgian period in Britain. Some were directed towards men in the navy or potential recruits, but they were also part of the musical repertoire of the middle-class drawing room. A common theme is the importance of family life. With large numbers of men needed to serve in the military in this time of war and colonial expansion, it was essential for the home front that their families remained cohesive, and ballads were sometimes written with the express purpose of promoting fidelity and patience on the part of both men and women. This chapter examines the varieties of family and conjugal relations presented in the verbal and musical rhetoric of a selection of these songs.