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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Barry Ono [video]

Barry Ono was a former music hall comedian whose collection of old penny bloods and penny dreadfuls was legendary amongst fans of such things. Barry (real name Frederick Valentine Harrison) bequeathed the collection to the British Library when he died in 1941, but for years it remained uncatalogued. Finally, over 50 years later, Elizabeth James and Helen R. Smith catalogued this astonishing collection in Penny Dreadfuls and Boys' Adventures: The Barry Ono Collection of Victorian Popular Literature in the British Library (London, British Library, 1998). The collection had been microfilmed some years earlier and examples from Barry's collection often pop up on John Adcock's Yesterday's Papers blog.

You can find out a little more about Barry Ono here.

(* The above film is © British Pathe Limited.)


John said...

I love to hear barry Ono exclaim in his plummy music hall voice, "Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street." Thanks for this one, Steve.

Captain Storm said...

Thanks for this Steve.I recently posited the notion of archiving audio and video interviews over at the ComicsUK forum but not much interest there surprisingly,due in part to copyright thingies.But surely this is as much a part of comic history as the written word and in some cases more important as we get to hear and see fans and people working in the media.This stuff is screaming out to be archived properly,especially this example where a fan discusses the very start of comics-the penny dreadfuls!What say you sir!

Michael Bailey said...

Fascinating to finally see and hear his voice. Thanks, Steve.

Steve said...

What say I? I agree. I'd love to see some kind of archive for tapes, film reels, video and written interviews. I'm rather saddened to admit that some of the interviews I did years ago are long gone because I used to transcribe interviews and then reuse the tapes.

I try to link to anything that relates to old British comic strips and British comics creators whenever I come across it in the Comics Cuts columns but I'm sure I miss stuff. If people want to send in links, I'm more than happy to have Bear Alley act as a kind of central clearing house for anything to do with the history of British comic strips and I'm always pleased to have contributions from other people.

Steve said...


Wonderful thing, the internet. I'd would never have stumbled upon the Barry Ono film reel without it. Makes me wish we'd had all these wonderful tools twenty years ago when I started and when people like Bill Lofts were still around.

Naveed said...

I first heard of Barry Ono in the early Story Paper Collectors' Digest magazine. Just an allusion to the man. I thought to myself, that with a name like 'Barry Ono' he must be a rather colourful character! Also that his collection of Penny Dreadfuls would have been dreadfully extensive. That seems to be true if they were more in extent than several Museum combined.
Very good to see footage of an old-time collector, even if revolving around story-papers that I will probably never be impelled to read.