CLOSE
Bodleian Libraries
Bodleian Libraries

Long-Lost Christmas Drinking Song Discovered at Oxford

Bodleian Libraries
Bodleian Libraries

A long-lost Christmas song has been discovered at Oxford, and yes, it’s about drinking. The score by George Butterworth, an English composer who died in the trenches of World War I, was uncovered at the university’s Bodleian Libraries, whose researchers believe it to be the only surviving copy.

Butterworth, who was born in 1885, was an avid collector and composer of folk music as well as an early adopter of new recording technologies. His work was relatively popular by the time he enlisted in the infantry in 1914, and according to the Bodleian Libraries, he was considered one of the most promising English composers of his time. He was killed in battle at 31 years old, and most of his compositions were lost. He had destroyed much of his music before he left for the war, thinking it wasn’t worth preserving, though after his death his surviving compositions came to be lauded as masterpieces

The three-page score for the lost Christmas song was found by Martin Holmes, a music curator at the Bodleian Libraries, in a collection of uncataloged music that made its way from the university’s music department to the university’s Weston Library. The library isn’t sure where it came from, but it might have been donated by the composer’s father to Butterworth’s friend from Oxford, Sir Hugh Allen, who later became a music professor at the school. Allen’s papers were donated to the Oxford Music Faculty Library after his death in 1946.

According to the library, the song “begins with the words ‘Crown winter with green, And give him good drink To physic his spleen…’ and ends with the lines ‘And merry be we This good Yuletide.'” In the vein of his other folk-inspired songs, “he wrote the musical setting for this poem in the style of a drinking song, for voice and piano,” the library’s press release continues. The song was probably written early in Buttterworth’s career sometime in the early 20th century. It's not a masterpiece, but it can provide scholars with a better idea of how his compositional talents evolved.

The manuscript score is on display at the Weston Library at Oxford through this weekend, where you can also listen to a recording of the song.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
arrow
travel
You Can Now Rent the Montgomery, Alabama Home of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald Through Airbnb
Chris Pruitt, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

The former apartment of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, perhaps the most famous couple of the Jazz Age, is now available to rent on a nightly basis through Airbnb, The Chicago Tribune reports. While visitors are discouraged from throwing parties in the spirit of Jay Gatsby, they are invited to write, drink, and live there as the authors did.

The early 20th-century house in Montgomery, Alabama was home to the pair from 1931 to 1932. It's where Zelda worked on her only novel Save Me the Waltz and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote part of Tender Is the Night. The building was also the last home they shared with their daughter Scottie before she moved to boarding school.

In the 1980s, the house was rescued from a planned demolition and turned into a nonprofit. Today, the site is a museum and a spot on the Southern Literary Trail. While the first floor of the Fitzgerald museum, which features first-edition books, letters, original paintings, and other artifacts related to the couple, isn't available to rent, the two-bedroom apartment above it goes for $150 a night. Guests staying there will find a record player and a collection of jazz albums, pillows embroidered with Zelda Fitzgerald quotes, and a balcony with views of the property's magnolia tree. Of the four surviving homes Zelda and F. Scott lived in while traveling the world, this is the only one that's accessible to the public.

Though the Fitzgerald home is the only site on the Southern Literary Trail available to rent through Airbnb, it's just one of the trail's many historic homes. The former residences of Flannery O'Connor, Caroline Miller, and Lillian Smith are all open to the public as museums.

[h/t The Chicago Tribune]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California
arrow
History
The Concept of the American 'Backyard' is Newer Than You Think
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California

Backyards are as American as apple pie and baseball. If you live in a suburban or rural area, chances are good that you have a lawn, and maybe a pool, some patio furniture, and a grill to boot.

This wasn’t always the case, though. As Smithsonian Insider reports, it wasn’t until the 1950s that Americans began to consider the backyard an extension of the home, as well as a space for recreation and relaxation. After World War II, Americans started leaving the big cities and moving to suburban homes that came equipped with private backyards. Then, after the 40-hour work week was implemented and wages started to increase, families started spending more money on patios, pools, and well-kept lawns, which became a “symbol of prosperity” in the 1950s, according to a new Smithsonian Institution exhibit.

A man mows his lawn in the 1950s
In this photo from the Smithsonian Institution's exhibit, a man mows his lawn in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington
Library in San Marino, California

Entitled "Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Back Yard," the exhibition includes photographs, advertisements, and articles about backyards from the 1950s and 1960s. The traveling display is currently on view at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum in Temple, Texas, and from there it will head to Hartford, Connecticut, in December.

Prior to the 1950s, outdoor yards were primarily workspaces, MLive.com reports. Some families may have had a vegetable garden, but most yards were used to store tools, livestock, and other basic necessities.

The rise of the backyard was largely fueled by materials that were already on hand, but hadn’t been accessible to the average American during World War II. As Smithsonian Insider notes, companies that had manufactured aluminum and concrete for wartime efforts later switched to swimming pools, patio furniture, and even grilling utensils.

A family eats at a picnic table in the 1960s
A family in Mendham, New Jersey, in the 1960s
Molly Adams/Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Maida Babson Adams American Garden Collection

At the same time, DIY projects started to come into fashion. According to an exhibit caption of a Popular Mechanics article from the 1950s, “‘Doing-it-yourself’ was advertised as an enjoyable and affordable way for families to individualize their suburban homes.” The magazine wrote at the time that “patios, eating areas, places for play and relaxation are transforming back yards throughout the nation.”

The American backyard continues to grow to this day. As Bloomberg notes, data shows that the average backyard grew three years in a row, from 2015 to 2017. The average home last year had 7048 square feet of outdoor space—plenty of room for a sizable Memorial Day cookout.

[h/t Smithsonian Insider]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios