Marie Lloyd in Music Hall heyday

Marie Lloyd (1870-1922)

Music Hall star of her generation. The author’s Great Aunt.

MARIE LLOYD   (1870-1922)

“Lord Callaghan once quoted a pop singer, but it was Marie Lloyd, who died in 1922. In any case, T.S.Eliot wrote an essay on her. This might be thought of as one of the first cases, before the 1960s, of an intellectual creative artist flattering mass taste, were it not for Eliot’s tone (“Among all of that small number of music-hall performers, whose names are familiar to what is called the lower class, Marie Lloyd had far the strongest hold on popular affection”). So Lord Callaghan cannot be accused of brandishing a name known to the youth of his time.”

Frank Johnson writing in The Spectator (London) 17th February 2001

This reference to Marie Lloyd is compromised .

According to The Spectator (London) of 4th October 2008

Lord Callaghan enquired of his staff the name of the singer of “There was I waiting at the church”.  He intended to incorporate the song title in his speech at the Brighton Conference of 1978. Joe Haines advised him, correctly, that the singer was Vesta Victoria. “His civil servants insisted on Marie Lloyd, not because they knew, but because everyone had heard of her, whilst Vesta Victoria was obscure. So Marie Lloyd it had to be”

Wikiquote gives the quotation as follows:

“The commentators have fixed the month for me, they have chosen the date and the day. But I advise them: “Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.” Remember what happened to Marie Lloyd. She fixed the day and the date, and she told us what happened. As far as I remember it went like this: ‘There was I, waiting at the church–’ (laughter). Perhaps you recall how it went on. ‘All at once he sent me round a note. Here’s the very note. This is what he wrote: “Can’t get away to marry you today, my wife won’t let me.”‘ Now let me just make clear that I have promised nobody that I shall be at the altar in October? Nobody at all.”


  • T.S. Eliot, “London Letter” in The Dial 73.6 (Dec 1922) 659-62 (Marie Lloyd’s death).

“No other comedian succeeded so well in giving expression to the life of the music hall audience, raising it to a kind of art. It was, I think, this capacity for expressing the soul of the people that made Marie Lloyd unique”. ( Selected Essays by T. S. Eliot, Faber and Faber, London, 1941)

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