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The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms

Chris Baldick


A large sheet of paper printed on one side only, often containing a song or ballad, and sold by wandering pedlars in Britain from the 16th century until the beginning of the 20th century, when they were superseded by mass-circulation newspapers; they also appeared in the USA in the late 19th century. The broadside ballads were intended to be sung to a well-known tune; often they related topical events, and some were adopted as folk songs. Broadsides are sometimes called broadsheets.