The romantic notion of the Cockney, the shrewd and slangy common man coming from nowhere and surviving by his wits, is best exemplified by E.J. Milliken's character 'Arry and the songs he sings. The songs and stories, as well as the character of 'Arry, were Milliken's vehicles for social criticism, namely the intolerance shown by the aristocracy. Those songs, colorful additions to Victorian history and humor, tell the story of 'Arry, a commoner who is enamored of the social hierarchy, but is keenly aware how close the top and bottom rungs are. Central to the themes of the songs is the Cockney whose pride is his dialect. Confidence in the face of the class system and withering social criticism make memorable the songs of 'Arry and Milliken. This work analyzes the Cockney ballads and contains extensively annotated lyrics for the songs. Each chapter is dedicated to a facet of the everyday life of the common man in Victorian England, including relationships with women, travel and war, and are prefaced with a short analytical history of the period which also places the songs in context.
Patricia Marks, now retired, taught literature and composition at Valdosta State University for 30 years. In 1996, she was named Regents Distinguished Professor and in 2001 was awarded the Governor's Award in Humanities. She is the author of four other books, including Sarah Bernhardt's First American Theatrical Tour, 1880-1881 (2003) and lives with her husband in Valdosta, Georgia. She is a Deacon at Christ Episcopal Church.