Johnny Burke

Johnny Burke, poet, playwright, songwriter (b at St John's 1851; d there Aug 1930). While working at a variety of jobs, Burke moonlighted as a poet, writing hundreds of broadsheet ballads about events in St John's, printing them on his own press and selling them for 2 to 5 cents a copy.

Burke, Johnny

Johnny Burke, poet, playwright, songwriter (b at St John's 1851; d there Aug 1930). While working at a variety of jobs, Burke moonlighted as a poet, writing hundreds of broadsheet ballads about events in St John's, printing them on his own press and selling them for 2 to 5 cents a copy. He was said to have used an old-fashioned gramophone with a huge horn to attract customers.

His first songbook was published in 1901. Some of his most famous songs are "Cod Liver Oil,""The Trinity Cake" and "The Kelligrews Soiree." His musical comedies include The Battle of Foxtrap, The Topsail Geisha and Cotton's Patch.


Further Reading

  • P. Mercer, ed, The Ballads of Johnny Burke (1974).