George H. Chirgwin

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Photo autographed in 1904

George H. Chirgwin (14 December 1854– 17 November 1922) was a British music hall star billed as "the White-Eyed Kaffir", a black face minstrel act.

Chirgwin appeared in the first Royal Variety Command Performance (1912). He was noted for his unusual stage appearance and varied musical accomplishments, using a falsetto voice when singing, and playing the one-string "Jap fiddle".[1]

Rather than using a fully blacked-up face as other blackface minstrels did, Chirgwin chose to adapt this by making one large white diamond over one eye. This meant that his stage character was only partly inside the blackface minstrel tradition, and was using the tradition in a somewhat ironical manner. And indeed his material included cockney material as well as straightforward blackface songs and sketches.

In the 1890s, Chirgwin appeared in two actuality films, Chirgwin in his Humorous Business and Chirgwin Plays a Scotch Reel.[2] He later wrote and acted in a silent drama film called The Blind Boy.[2] A recording was released posthumously on the Edison Bell Record label on a 78 record of the Blind Boy/ Asleep in the deep on the B side. In his later life, he was mine host of a pub in Shepperton, Surrey.[3]


  • Chirgwin in his Humorous Business (1896)
  • Chirgwin Plays a Scotch Reel (1896)
  • The Blind Boy (1917)


  1. ^ Rachel Cowgill; Julian Rushton (December 2006). Europe, empire, and spectacle in nineteenth-century British music. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 273–. ISBN 978-0-7546-5208-3. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b St. Pierre, p. 40
  3. ^ Mellor, p. 73
  • Mellor, Geoffrey James (1970), The Northern Music Hall: A Century of Popular Entertainment, Graham, ISBN 0-900409-85-1 
  • St. Pierre, Paul Matthew (2009), Music Hall Mimesis in British Film, 1895-1960: On the Halls on the Screen, Associated University Presse, ISBN 0-8386-4191-1 

Further reading[edit]

  • Chirgwin's Chirrup: Being the Life and Reminiscences of George Chirgwin, J. and J. Bennett, 1912, OCLC 40316071 

External links[edit]