Music sheet cover
'The Belle of Belgrave Square or Lady Audley's Kitchen Maid's Secret'
Published by Hopwood and Crew, written by Watkin Williams, composed by C. Solomons
Late 19th century
Museum no. S.338-2012
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Belle of Belgrave Square or Lady Audley's Kitchen Maid's Secret. This music hall song refers to the popular novel Lady Audley"s Secret, which was written by Mary Elizabeth Braddon in 1862. That was a lurid and melodramatic tale of bigamy, gold- digging and murder amongst the aristocracy of London"s Belgravia. The young, beautiful and gracious Lady Audley, who recently married the elderly Sir Michael, has a dark and sinister secret, and only her maid knows the truth. Lady Audley is driven to increasingly desperate measures to keep her secret, and eventually goes mad. The book became a sensation, and was frequently dramatised in late Victorian London. This song parodies the book. Lady Audley"s maid also has a secret - the young man she is seeing. As he creeps through the house for a clandestine meeting, he has a noisy accident, that gives the game away. The music sheet cover includes a short verse that explains the scene: 'Oh! headlong in the dark I went, and with my arms outspread, Down came champagne and port wine bottles, smashing on my head, I felt the Port Wine trickling down my forehead, face, and neck. Then heard a loud voice shouting out a policeman go and get.' Buying this piece of sheet music would have cost you two shillings and sixpence, which today would be about £5.50.