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

“My Sweetheart When a Boy” endorses an idealized view of childhood, in which love is felt in a tender and innocent way. The song has a nostalgic character, because the singer has only his memories of that pure love and he has never since experienced “such enchanted joy.” It does not always work out well, however, when those who yearn for boyhood sweethearts encounter them again—one has only to think of Pip and Estella in Dickens’s Great Expectations.


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

Created 26 May 2019