Written in 1885, this was Marie Lloyd's first hit song, although she actually "stole" it from Nelly Power. Sentimental, and extremely tame in comparison with many of her later songs, it was featured in the 1957 play The Entertainer
which was filmed in 1960, both with Laurence Olivier in the title role.
According to the Richard Baker biography of the music hall star
, this appears to have been only the second song she ever sang as a solo performer, aged just fifteen, and under her own name, Matilda Wood. She was said to have sung it regularly at the Eagle
music hall, until she was threatened with legal action, but "Marie soon smoothed their ruffled feathers, and found other songs to sing". Nelly Power died two years later at the young age of thirty-three, but Lloyd went from strength to strength. She signed with the agent George Belmont, but broke her contract by appearing at another music hall. She soothed his ruffled feathers too, and was quickly signed by George Ware (Old Reliable) who by coincidence had written "The Boy I Love..." for Power.