The Angel of Lucknow, the Hero of Halifax

A Nova Scotian Musical Response to the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58

Michelle Boyd

Although only a minor conflict from today's perspective, the 'Indian Mutiny' of 1857-58 inspired a massive outpouring of popular culture responses in Victorian Britain. One of the most frequently used texts was the legend of Jessie Brown, a Scottish maiden who became a heroine during the siege of Lucknow. This fabulous tale was retold and memorialized throughout British theatres, music halls and private homes. Jessie Brown also inspired 'Dinna You Hear It', a little-known parlour song that was composed by James Ross and Louis Casseres and published by E.G. Fuller in Halifax, Nova Scotia, around 1858. This article examines the historical circumstances that led to this song's creation and the appeal that this text would have held for the residents of a small colonial city. Halifax may have been a remote corner of the Empire, far removed from the battlefields of India, but Nova Scotians nonetheless shared Britons' horror and intrigue over the Mutiny - a fascination that was heightened by the fact that Nova Scotia could claim a distinct connection to the victory at Lucknow. By examining the creative and commercial factors that led the authors of 'Dinna You Hear It' to produce their own musical setting of the Jessie Brown legend for the Halifax public, this study of a rare Nova Scotian music publication asserts the important role sheet music played within the process of cultural exchange that bridged colony and metropole throughout the nineteenth century.

Journal Nineteenth-Century Music Review
Year 2014
Volume 11
Issue 2
Pages 195-217

Boyd, Michelle (2014) The Angel of Lucknow, the Hero of Halifax: A Nova Scotian Musical Response to the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58. In: Nineteenth-Century Music Review, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 195-217. Available at


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