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Grace Darling

Date: c 1838
Overall: 340 x 257 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Sheet music
Object No: 00036384
Place Manufactured:Philadelphia

User Terms

    This ballad commemorates Grace Darling and her father who rescued nine passengers from the sinking paddlesteamer FORFARSHIRE on 7 September 1838, off the Farne Islands. A second ballad known as the 'Wrecker's Daughter' was also produced after the event. Grace became a national English celebrity and heroine in the 19th century. Alongside her father she received the Royal National Lifeboat Institution medal in 1838 and the gold medal of the Royal Humane Society.

    Significance'Grace Darling' illustrates the commemoration of maritime events and heroes through the production of sheet music. Sheet music was relatively cheap and widely distributed in the 19th century, and helped spread the celebrity status of heroes such as Grace Darling.
    HistorySS FORFARSHIRE was a 1238-ton paddlesteamer built in 1838, which broke in two when it struck rocks near the Farne Islands on 7 September 1838. The ship was commissioned by the Dundee & Hull Shipping line to carry passengers between Dundee and Hull. Only a small number of crew managed to escape the wreckage in a row boat, while nine others were rescued by Grace and her father William Darling.

    Grace Horlsey Darling was born at Northumberland, England in 1815. Grace's father was the lighthouse keeper on the Farne Islands during the FORFARESHIRE shipwreck. During the morning of 7 September 1838 Grace was the first to spot SS FORFARESHIRE near Longstone Lighthouse. It is believed that she encouraged her father to row out during gale conditions and rescue stranded passengers. During the Victorian era Grace's actions were seen as heroic and especially remarkable for a woman. She became a celebrated figure in newspaper articles, paintings, sheet music, stories and poems.

    Sheet music offers an insight into popular culture and social values at the time of their production. The widely distributed pieces were sold fairly cheaply, making them popular purchases with the general public. Music was an integral part of people's social life in the home and at public events such as balls, recitals, concerts and theatre shows.

    The first line of 'Grace Darling':

    Oh! Father lov'd, the storm is raging
    And the cold and heavy night mist falls;
    Some hapless crew, a prey to danger,
    For help, for help, despairing calls.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Page one of Grace darling, (see second page 00036385)

    Web title: Grace Darling

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