British Music Hall Society Conference, Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th October 2024 

Following on from last year’s highly acclaimed inaugural conference, we’re holding the second British Music Hall Society Conference at London’s historic Hoxton Hall in October. We invite you to put the date in your diary, but also, for this is a conference by and for music hall enthusiasts, to think up a six-minute or twenty-minute talk you could propose to give. As last year, the conference will be as affordable as we can make it, and tickets will go on sale in the summer.

The theme this year is Music Hall Songs and Conflict from the beginning of the Music Hall up to the end of WW1. Wars in that era are an obvious topic but we strongly welcome proposals looking at other examples of conflict reflected (or ignored) in song, such as marital discord, political strife, the temperance movement, sexual orientation, and women’s rights. We also invite proposals about conflict between the authorities and music hall singers/songwriters. More information is below.

We also hope to have an exhibition and welcome suggestions of items to show. There will be a walk to discover Hoxton’s music hall history too, plus a stall with books, music hall ephemera etc.

The Conference will take place between 10am and 5pm each day. 

Hoxton Hall was originally built in 1863 by James Mortimer, in the traditional music hall architecture style, with the intention to combine instruction with amusement. When the hall was first built it was named Mortimer Hall. The hall was bought by James McDonald in 1866 and renamed McDonald’s Music Hall, where it continued to be an affordable venue to entertain the working classes. McDonald’s Music Hall was quite a success and many of Music Hall’s major names played there in its early years. Such was its popularity that in 1867 McDonald enlarged its capacity by raising the height of the Hall, adding a new upper balcony, and extending the previous rear balcony along both sides. He lost his licence in 1871 and the hall moved to a variety of other uses but this historic and impressive venue still hosts shows today. There were several other halls in the vicinity and many artistes including Marie Lloyd lived in the neighbourhood.

Hoxton Hall, 130 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6SH is a short walk from Hoxton Overground (5 minutes), Shoreditch High Street Overground (10 minutes), Old Street Rail & Tube (15 minutes) and Liverpool Street Rail & Tube (20 minutes).

Conference co-organisers: Alison Young and Charlie Holland.


We invite proposals for talks (20 minutes plus 10 for questions) on subjects related to the theme Music Hall Songs and Conflict, Music Hall Songs and Conflict from the beginning of the Music Hall up to the end of WW1.  Proposals that look at a wider picture than one person or one song, such as comparing the approach of several songwriters, or how songwriting on a contentious topic changed over time, are particularly welcome.

We also invite proposals of short presentations – no longer than 6 minutes and 20 seconds – perhaps looking at a single song or summarising an area.

Speakers will be able to show a PowerPoint presentation and there will be a keyboard for people to play during their presentation and if there are several requests from speakers for an accompanying pianist we shall seek to provide one.

The British Music Hall Society is not an academic institution so presentations should be worded to appeal to a general audience rather than an exclusively academic one. Ideally, talks will be given in-person, though consideration will be given to virtual presentations (for example, to avoid carbon emissions from long-distance travel). 

How to submit a proposal: Please send a short paragraph about the subject of your proposed presentation to  

Also include a short biography (up to 100 words), your mobile phone number, and any audio-visual requirements you will need beyond a microphone and lectern. For example, do you plan to display images or a PowerPoint presentation?  Will you need to play video or music during parts of your presentation?

Speakers will receive free admission for themselves. In addition, we have six travel bursaries of up to £150, focussed on early career speakers.

Deadline for submission: 31st May 2024 though we invite expressions of interest to be made as early as possible. We are happy to discuss your ideas.  Please consider submitting your proposal soon! Whilst we would like to accommodate all proposals, our focus is on curating a range of presentations that, together, will give a good coverage of the key topics.


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