1 December 2022 Susannah

Marriott Edgar & The Lion and Albert

The Lion and Albert

I thought I’d give you a bit of Christmas cheer, with the glorious poem about the lion eating young Albert. The poem was written in the 1930s by Marriott Edgar (1880 – 1951), half-brother to the novelist Edgar Wallace (who was the result of a broom cupboard encounter their father had with an actress). He toured (acting as a pantomime dame) with the actor Stanley Holloway who commissioned him to write 16 monologues. Both men had heard an actual news story of a lion eating a child. The poem is set in the menagerie at Blackpool Tower. The lion was named Wallace after the first lion to be bred in Britain.

The Lion and Albert by Marriott Edgar

There’s a famous seaside place called Blackpool,
That’s noted for fresh air and fun,
And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Went there with young Albert, their son.

A grand little lad was young Albert,
All dressed in his best; quite a swell
With a stick with an ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle,
The finest that Woolworth’s could sell.

They didn’t think much to the Ocean:
The waves, they was fiddlin’ and small,
There was no wrecks and nobody drownded,
Fact, nothing to laugh at at all.

So, seeking for further amusement,
They paid and went into the Zoo,
Where they’d Lions and Tigers and Camels,
And old ale and sandwiches too.

There were one great big Lion called Wallace;
His nose were all covered with scars —
He lay in a somnolent posture,
With the side of his face on the bars.

Now Albert had heard about Lions,
How they was ferocious and wild —
To see Wallace lying so peaceful,
Well, it didn’t seem right to the child.

So straightway the brave little feller,
Not showing a morsel of fear,
Took his stick with its ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle
And pushed it in Wallace’s ear.

You could see that the Lion didn’t like it,
For giving a kind of a roll,
He pulled Albert inside the cage with ‘im,
And swallowed the little lad ‘ole.

Then Pa, who had seen the occurrence,
And didn’t know what to do next,
Said ‘Mother! Yon Lion’s ‘et Albert’,
And Mother said ‘Well, I am vexed!’

Then Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom —
Quite rightly, when all’s said and done —
Complained to the Animal Keeper,
That the Lion had eaten their son.

The keeper was quite nice about it;
He said ‘What a nasty mishap.
Are you sure that it’s your boy he’s eaten?’
Pa said “Am I sure? There’s his cap!’

The manager had to be sent for.
He came and he said ‘What’s to do?’
Pa said ‘Yon Lion’s ‘et Albert,
‘And ‘im in his Sunday clothes, too.’

Then Mother said, ‘Right’s right, young feller;
I think it’s a shame and a sin,
For a lion to go and eat Albert,
And after we’ve paid to come in.’

The manager wanted no trouble,
He took out his purse right away,
Saying ‘How much to settle the matter?’
And Pa said “What do you usually pay?’

But Mother had turned a bit awkward
When she thought where her Albert had gone.
She said ‘No! someone’s got to be summonsed’ —
So that was decided upon.

Then off they went to the P’lice Station,
In front of the Magistrate chap;
They told ‘im what happened to Albert,
And proved it by showing his cap.

The Magistrate gave his opinion
That no one was really to blame
And he said that he hoped the Ramsbottoms
Would have further sons to their name.

At that Mother got proper blazing,
‘And thank you, sir, kindly,’ said she.
‘What waste all our lives raising children
To feed ruddy Lions? Not me!’

There is only one YouTube version of this poem for you to listen to (I simply could not recommend anything else) and that is the one by Stanley Holloway (he acted Eliza Doolittle’s dustman father in My Fair Lady). Give yourself a treat and enjoy this fabulous reading:

Did you enjoy this poem? Let me know by leaving a comment.

Leave a comment.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until approved.


Featured image- The Lion and Albert by Marriott Edgar, illustration by John Hassall, from https://archive.org/details/MarriottsMonologues

Comments (24)

  1. Penny Morris

    Thanks Susannah. I read it aloud to my husband who really enjoyed it. A bit of cheer for Christmas

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Great fun, isn’t it! I gave both my sons the Stanley Holloway reading to listen to, and they both really enjoyed it.
      Merry Christmas and I hope 2023 is filled with good books!

  2. Irene Knowles

    This just took me back to my childhood and I can still hear my father laughing at the.Stanley Holloway version on the radio.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      This poem seems to br bringing back many happy memories for so many of my newsletter readers. I’m glad it took you back to your childhood too.

  3. Margaret Debenham

    I am another newsletter reader a little(?) older than you who remembers hearing this often when I was younger – in fact as soon as I saw your intro I heard Stanley Holloway’s voice in my head, reciting what I always (incorrectly) think of as the poem named “Albert Wot Got Et by a Lion”. Ah dear, what modern youth are missing out on!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      My newsletter has just introduced both of my children to this poem, so hopefully, there are other young people out there too who are now enjoying it.
      I will always hear Stanley Holloway’s voice in connection with it.

  4. Beverley Earnshaw

    What a nostalgic treat. I remember this being recited back in the 1940s.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      This poem is bringing back good memories for so many of my newsletter readers.

      • Robyn gooden

        Loved this poem read so well, by Stanley Holloway. Thanks for sharing it with us. Robyn

  5. Gabrielle Holles

    Thanks Susannah. I had never heard of this poem. It is wonderful! It did bring to mind Hilliard Belloc’s cautionary poem about Jim who met a similar fate.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      It seems that people who are a little older than we are know and love it. I only encountered it when a lovely older lady on one of my tours recited it to me, and of course, I fell in love with it and went off to listen to the Stanley Holloway version. It’s a classic!
      Great to see you yesterday – thanks for the warm welcome.

  6. Gail Shore

    I know this poem off by heart. It was a great favourite of my father’s. I learnt it when I was a child (60+years ago) and it is sometimes my ‘party piece’ if the circumstances are right. My family is from the north of England, so I can do the accent as well! It’s great fun.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I envy you being able to do the right accent. It’s never quite the same without it. It’s such a fabulous poem, isn’t it!

  7. Charlotte Nattey

    I remember hearing Stanley Holloway reading this as a child – how lovely to hear it again – just as good now as ever!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      His reading seems to be bringing good memories back to so many of my readers.
      Best wishes for a merry Christmas, Charlotte.

  8. Professor Chris Browne

    Hi Susannah

    I also love Albert and the Lion. Interestingly, it was first published in 1938 by Macmillan Canada in Toronto, and I bought my copy, a 1945 reprint in dust wrapper in that least English of Canadian cities, Montreal, in 1979, while we were living there, for the princely sum of $3. The book credits Marriot Edgar as the author and references Stanley Holloway’s performances. It has illustrations by Anne Monkman, who I have been unable to trace.

    It was not published in the UK until 1978, when a children’s version was published by Methuen with the title strangely given as “The Lion and Albert”, with illustrations by Caroline Holden. The illustrations you are showing are by John Hassall, who was the father of the very distinguished artist Joan Hassall who illustrated the Folio Society Jane Austen novels. I can’t find out when they were first published.

    I can find no record of an Australian edition, but I presume the Methuen edition might have been imported here. I note that decent copies of the Canadian Macmillan edition can now make $25-$50 depending on condition.

    Best of Christmas wishes

    • Susannah Fullerton

      It was so interesting to learn more about the early published versions, Chris. Many thanks. It’s such a fabulous poem. I’ve never been to Blackpool, but if I ever do, I will have to go to the zoo, just because of this poem.
      Merry Christmas and may 2023 be a fabulously book-filled year.

  9. Heather Grant

    I first heard this poem read by Stanley Holloway on the radio when. I was a child. Colin Fox, a Presenter on ABC Classic FM, as it was formerly known, played The Lion and Albert a number of times on the Sunday morning program. Absolutely delightful and it has brought back many happy memories. Thank you Susannah and Merry Christmas to you and your family🎄🎄🎄

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I’m so glad it brought back happy memories. It is such a marvellous poem and Stanley Holloway does it superbly.
      Best wishes for a merry Christmas and thanks for all your support and comments during the year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *