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Whitewashing Blackface Minstrelsy In Nineteenth-Century England: Female Banjo Players In 'Punch', Laura Vorachek
Blackface minstrelsy, popular in England since its introduction in 1836, reached its apogee in 1882 when the Prince of Wales took banjo lessons from James Bohee, an African-American performer. The result, according to musicologist Derek Scott, was a craze for the banjo among men of the middle classes. However, a close look at the periodical press, and the highly influential Punch in particular, indicates that the fad extended to women as well. While blackface minstrelsy was considered a wholesome entertainment in Victorian England, Punch's depiction of female banjo players highlights English unease with this practice in a way that ...