Click on arrow to hear the song performed by Derek B. Scott, Professor of Critical Musicology, University of Leeds, to his own piano accompaniment c. 1985.

“Pretty Polly Perkins of Paddington Green” became one of the best-known songs of respectable music-hall entertainer Harry Clifton (1832-72). Like many of Clifton’s songs it teaches a moral lesson (here, about the pitfalls of pride and vanity). A version circulated in the USA as “Pretty Polly Perkins of Abington Green.” The Newcastle-upon-Tyne comedian George Ridley parodied the song as “Cushie Butterfield” [performed]. — Derek B. Scott


Scott, Derek B. The Singing Bourgeois: Songs of the Victorian Drawing Room and Parlour. 2nd ed. Aldershot, Hampshire; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2001.

Scott, Derek B. Sounds of the Metropolis: The 19th-Century Popular Music Revolution in London, New York, Paris, and Vienna. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Created October 2009

Last modified 24 March 2017