Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Butterfly's Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast

As I've stated many times, I absolutely love researching the historical details that place characters in their own time.  My WIP, The Gardener's Daughter, begins with the two main characters as children.  In order to flesh them out I researched books and games children would have played in the Georgian era.  While frolicking across the Web, I came across an enchanting book first published in the November issue of the Gentleman's Magazine of 1766.  The poem  is believed to be written by William Roscoe in honor of his son Robert's birthday.

The Butterfly's Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast by William Roscoe

The rhyming poem describes a whimsical ball attended by insects and creatures who gather for a night of music, dancing, and merry-making.  A mirror  of the London ton, the story adds whimsical character to those attending the festivities. 

Sir George Smart set music to the rhyming story at the request of King George III and  Queen Charlotte for the delight of their daughters Elizabeth, Augusta, and Mary.  The princesses performed the musical during a holiday at Weymouth. 

A series of little books measuring just 5 by 4 inches were published throughout the latter part of the 1700s and in to the early part of the 1800s.  The small books were written by various authors, some lost to the years.  One series, Harriet's Cabinet began with the Butterfly's Ball published in 1807 and followed by The Peacock at Home

The Elephant's Ball by W. B. (it is unknown who the initials refer to)


 and  The Lion's Masquerade by Catherine Ann Turner Dorset

 An updated version of the Butterfly's Ball and Grasshopper's Feast won the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year award in 1973 with colorful illustrations by Alan Aldridge. 

May you enjoy each of these sweet tales as much as I did.