Between the two World Wars several British poets wrote comical monologues to lift the spirits of their fellow citizens and servicemen.
Almost one hundred years later, humour is very different today and yet these monologues still manage to raise a chuckle. And the chuckle is raised whether it's the first time you've heard it, or you've heard it so many times that you can recite it off by heart.
And that is a mark of very special wit.
On this page, we introduce some of the best known authors, with links to their monologues.
George Marriot Edgar (1880-1951) was born in Kirkcudbright, Scotland, just north of the English border.
He penned his name "Marriott Edgar" to his monologues but to his friends he was known as "George".
He became part of his family's theatre troupe from an early age and went on to build a successful writing career as a journalist and author of several novels. He also wrote plays for the stage and screen. He is best remembered for writing many of the monologues performed by stand-up comedians and other entertainers, particularly in the dark days when Britain was at war.
Stanley Holloway OBE (1890-1982), a fellow Briton, was one such performer. Holloway became famous for his comic character roles on both stage and the big screen, such as his role as Alfred Doolittle in 'My Fair Lady'. He began his recording career using 'The Ramsbottoms' monologues written by Marriott Edgar. It was a successful partnership of writer and performer.
Although he lived in London (Hampstead) he had served with a Yorkshire Regiment in World War I and acquired a close and detailed knowledge of the Yorkshire dialect.
Delivery of these monologues is best with an accent somewhere between the Scottish dialect of Edgar and the Southern English of Holloway; i.e., a Northern accent. (An' if thaz stuck on 'ow to pronunciate owt, wear tha' flat cap. It'll 'elp.)
These poems were not only entertaining, but also educational for those in the early 20th century who were unable to complete a full education at school. The poems became light-hearted potted history lessons, which no doubt encouraged and enthused many to expand their knowledge.
Printed and re-printed in several formats, the poem title may vary, according to the whim of the publisher. To complicate things further, aficionados may refer to a poem by its first line or 'punchline'.
|Albert Ramsbottom, Joe and Others|
| ||First line|
|The Lion and Albert|
(Albert and the Lion)
|There's a famous seaside place called Blackpool|
|The Return of Albert|
(Albert Comes Back / Albert's Return)
|You've 'eard 'ow young Albert Ramsbottom|
|Albert's Reunion||You've heard of Albert Ramsbottom|
|Albert Down Under||Albert were what you'd call 'thwarted'|
|The Jubilee Sov'rin||On Jubilee Day the Ramsbottoms|
|The Recumbent Posture||The day after Christmas, Young Albert|
|The Runcorn Ferry|
(Tuppence per person per trip)
|On the banks of the Mersey, over on Cheshire side|
|Albert and the 'Eadsman||On young Albert Ramsbottom's birthday|
|Albert and His Savings||One day, little Albert Ramsbottom|
|Albert Evacuated||Have you heard how young Albert Ramsbottom|
|Asparagus||Mr Ramsbottom went to the races|
|Joe Ramsbottom||Joe Ramsbottom rented a bit of a farm|
|Goalkeeper Joe||Joe Dunn were a bobby for football|
|Gunner Joe||I'll tell you a seafaring story|
Samuel Small and Others
|Marksman Sam||When Sam Small joined the regiment|
|Old Sam's Christmas Pudding|
(Sam's Christmas Pudding)
|It was Christmas Day in the trenches|
|Sam Goes To It||Sam Small had retired from the Army|
|Sam's Racehorse||When Sam Small retired from the Army|
(Sam, Pick Oop Tha' Musket)
|It occurred on the evening before Waterloo|
|One Each Apiece All Round||No. 2468|
|Alt! Who Goes There?||Old Sam first came to London|
|Beat the Retreat On Thy Drum|
(Sam, Sam, Beat the Retreat)
|I'm hundred and two today' bagoom!|
|Sam's medal||You've 'eard of Samuel Small, per'aps|
|Old Sam's Party||Sam Small, though approaching his eightieth year|
|Sam Drummed Out||When a lad's been drummed out or the Army|
|Sam's Sturgeon||Sam Small were fishing in canal|
Normans and Saxons and such: some ancient history
|Canute the Great||I'll tell of Canute, King of England|
|The Fair Rosamond|
(The Fair Rosamund)
|I'll tell of King 'Enry the Second|
|Henry the Seventh||Henry the Seventh of England|
|The Magna Charter||I'll tell of the Magna Charter|
|Queen Matilda||Henry the first, surnamed 'Beauclare'|
|Richard Coeur-de-Lion||Richard the fiirst, Coeur-de-Lion|
|The Battle of Hastings|
|I'll tell of the Battle of Hastings|
|The Burghers of Calais||It were after the Battle of Crecy|
|William Rufus||The reign of King William the Second|
|With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm||In the Tower of London, large as life|
(The Great Wall of China)
|I'll tell you the story of Balbus|
|Jonah and the Grampus|
(Jonah and the Whale)
|I'll tell you the story of Jonah|
(An Elephant Never Forgets)
|When Joe Dove took his elephants out on the road|
|The Channel Swimmer||Would you hear a wild tale of adventure|
|The 'Ole in the Ark||One evening at dusk as Noah stood on his Ark|
|Three Ha'pence a Foot||I'll tell you an old-fashioned story|
(Lancashire version of Longfellow's 'Excelsior')
|Twere getting dusk|
|George and the Dragon||I'll tell you the tale of an old country pub|
|St. George and the Dragon||Some folks'll boast about their family trees|
|The Beefeater||Oh dear, starting another day I suppose|
|Brahn Boots||Our Aunt Hannah's passed away|
|Yorkshire Pudden||Hi waitress, excuse me a minute, now listen|
|Sweeney Todd, the Barber||In Fleet Street that's in London Town|
|Many Happy Returns||Down at the school house at Runcorn|
|The Parson of Puddle||In the clean little, green little|