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My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall [Hardcover]

John Major
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
Price: 13.40 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

11 Sep 2012

Shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize; former prime minister John Major takes a remarkable journey into his own unconventional family past to tell the richly colourful story of the British music hall.

Music hall was one of the glories of Victorian England. Sentimental, vulgar, but patriotic and champion of the underdog, it held a mirror to the audiences’ hopes, fears and the general absurdity of life.

Vast, smoke-filled auditoriums were packed every night throughout Britain. Popular performers, such as Marie Lloyd and Vesta Tilley, were among the highest-paid and most celebrated figures in the land.

This was the world that John Major’s father Tom entered at the age of twenty-one as a comedian and singer. In ‘My Old Man’, the former prime minister tells his father’s story as a springboard for an entertaining history of the music hall, from its origins in Elizabethan times through to its heyday in the nineteenth century and eventual decline with the rise of radio and cinema in the twentieth century.

Packed with colourful anecdotes, this warm-hearted account captures a golden, bygone age of entertainment.

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My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall + Old Time Variety + Britain Had Talent: A History of Variety Theatre
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (11 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007450133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007450138
  • Product Dimensions: 0.3 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 131,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Major was Conservative Member of Parliament for Huntingdon between 1979 and 2001. In Cabinet, he served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was Prime Minister between 1990 and 1997. He was awarded the Companion of Honour in 1999, and became a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter in 2005. Since leaving office he has taken up business and charitable appointments. He is the author of two bestselling books, John Major The Autobiography and More Than a Game.

Product Description


‘In this rich, generous book, he never moralises but always celebrates … he sends in the clowns quite brilliantly, parading them before us all in all their extraordinariness… Wonderfully warm-hearted … compassionate … fascinating … Major nobly honours his parents and the life they lived in these pages … the affection is palpable’ Guardian

‘Affectionate, charming and unexpectedly lively … Major paints a vivid picture … to read this richly enjoyable book is to be given a glimpse into a lost world’ Mail on Sunday

‘Entertaining and well-paced … My Old Man is a powerful and affecting tribute’ Daily Express

‘His deep affection for his parents inspires his finest writing…fascinating … My Old Man is an entertaining and intriguing potted history, full of quirky details about this quintessentially English phenomenon’ Independent

‘Entertaining, fascinating and written with love….the admiration that John feels for his father is palpable on every page’ Sunday Express

About the Author

Born in 1943, John Major was a member of Lambeth Borough Council 1968–71, then entered Parliament in 1979; he was PPS to Ministers of State at the Home Office 1981–83, an assistant Govt Whip 1983–4, a Govt Whip 1984–5, Minister for Social Security 1986–7, Chief Sec. to HM Treasury 1987–9; Foreign Secretary 1989, Chancellor 1989–90, and Prime Minister 1990–97.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! 25 Oct 2012
I have always had an interest in the history of the music hall and was itching to read this book, after hearing John speak on radio 2. Like the other reviewer I too learnt a few new facts. The book was an excellent read and kept me interested all the way through. Especially enjoyed reading about Tom & Kitty's career. Anyone with an interest in music hall will enjoy this book, I'm sure. Great selection of photographs too! Highly recommended. Wilton's music hall in London gets a mention and is a great place to visit.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Major's "My Old Man" 29 Oct 2012
By Vivyan
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are several "histories" of the Music Hall available, but this one is especially worthy. As a concise survey of the subject it is remarkably wide-ranging, accurate, and very readable. It also deals briefly but revealingly with the American and European versions of what is usually considered to be a rather "British" phenomenon, and even includes a fascinating survey of Minstrel shows. Added to this, the "personal" element - the story of Sir John Major's own music hall family - adds a human dimension, bringing the whole story to life. Highly recommended as both a serious study of part of our theatrical heritage, and also as a great introduction to the subject for experts and newcomers alike. In my opinion, this is not just an enjoyable, but also an important contribution to Music Hall studies. I couldn't put it down!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read 5 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Lots of personal details on the lives of well-known and not so well-known performers. Very enjoyable.Can recommend with

perfect confidence.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very pleasant view of Old Time Music Hall 19 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My Old Man, by Sir John Major
This is a very good history of Music Hall from before this name was established to the end of the era, when Television killed the institution off.
John Major writes with great knowledge and affection of the Artists of old, and makes the era come alive. A fascinating, enjoyable read, and a great history lesson on this section of Theatre
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, excellent read - buy a copy! 10 Oct 2012
By Jenny G
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It was only after hearing John Major interviewed on Radio 3 that I knew about this book - My Old Man - A Personal History of Music Hall - and that is what it is. Not only is it beautifully written but it is aimed, I guess, at the reader with a general interest in Music Hall, not the officiardo. John Major has stated that he must be the only person to have run away from the circus to be an accountant - and this respectful history confirms that. I already knew a little about the Music Halls but this volume covered pre Music Hall, and its demise. John gives us brief life historys of the famous names, and interesting facts about the less well known, but equally hard working, artists. I really enjoyed every word of the book - learnt lots of new facts and appreciated the good selection of colour and black and white illustrations. Read this book - you are going to love it. I have now bought a copy of John Major's eaarlier book about cricket - of which I know little, but am looking forward to finding out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars My old man 2 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very heavy going but worth reading. Interesting to read about the old musical hall days and the type of people who worked there.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By D A
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was a well liked book and was something that was wanted, well written and quite comprehensive. The oldtime music halls were the great form of entertainment for the masses and here you will find many old stars mentioned. A must for the lovers of old time entertainment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MUSIC HALL 10 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The research done by John Major is amazing. When I discovered his background was a circus family in Brixton, I downloaded the book at once (and I am Labour supporter!). I am old enough to have seen, as a child, Gracie Fields, Flanagan & Alan and many others, live at the LONDON PALLADIUM.(my father was the drummer in the pit orchesra). Later, I saw them all at the METROPOLITAN EDGWARE ROAD, ALEXANDER STSTOKE NEWINGTON, HIPPODROME BALHAM omongst others, when the artist played the circuits. THATS ENTERTAINMENT!! Anyone with appreciation of real entertainment, should find this book exciting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for music hall fans
Want to escape to the olden days then this is brilliant with all the old names showing up. Very well written.
Published 1 month ago by TERESA B
5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable book giving an insight into early Variety and Music...
I found this book very enlightening on the subject of early Music Hall and Variety with lots of shared memories from his parents. This gave it a lovely feeling. Read more
Published 3 months ago by magstitch
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent: Always liked John Major!
I must state how much I enjoyed this book. In spite of it's title there is very little about JM's Dad, or his Mum for that matter, in this book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by AJ Corbett
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and so personal study!
The knowledgeable approach is very engaging and you get a lot of insight into both a great historical epoch and into John Major's own personal family. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mike Jones
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I was given the impression this was a biography - the title is very misleading. However it a quite amusing history of the music halls.
Published 5 months ago by Alison Heath
5.0 out of 5 stars the story of music hall and more
anything that combines John Major and Roy Hudd has got to be worth hearing. Very well researched and also read
Published 5 months ago by P J Evans
4.0 out of 5 stars Happy memories
I really enjoyed this book. it brought back happy memories of my grand-mother, of whom I was very fond. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Donald Hughes
4.0 out of 5 stars A Major Biography Of Music Hall
An excellent book.I now know the difference between music hall and variety.I used to go quite often to the London Palladium in the 1960s and 1970s when variety bills were still... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Wingate
5.0 out of 5 stars Good backgound to a man who worked hgis way to the top
Fascinating background to one of our honest politicians. most interesting to see where John Major came from which I did not know
Published 9 months ago by KeithF
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and moving
An excellent, detailed, well researched history of the music hall.
John Major clearly has great affection for this aspect of history and his family connections with it make... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Frank hill
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