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Short poem

Selected Poetry of William Roscoe (1753-1831)

from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

  1. The Butterfly's Ball, and the Grasshopper's Feast

Notes on Life and Works

William Roscoe was born March 8, 1753, in Liverpool. In 1774 he became an attorney and during his long life proved a great supporter of the city and its arts. Of the several volumes of poetry that he published, some on the slavery trade, others on Liverpool and its environs, only one poem, The Butterfly's Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast, which he wrote for his son Robert, had lasting popularity. It first appeared in Gentleman's Magazine in November 1806 and in a volume of its own, in 1807, issued by John Harris, who initiated with it a series of children's books. He died on June 30, 1831, in Liverpool. His Poetical Works were published posthumously in London in 1853. For a life, see George Chandler, William Roscoe of Liverpool (London: B. T. Batsford, 1953; PR 5236 R56 1953 Robarts Library).

Biographical information

Given name: William
Family name: Roscoe
Birth date: 8 March 1753
Death date: 30 June 1831
Nationality: English
Family relations
          father: William Roscoe
          mother: Elizabeth Roscoe
          wife: Jane Roscoe (from 22 February 1781)
          son: Henry Roscoe
          son: Robert Roscoe
          son: Thomas Roscoe
          daughter: Jane Elizabeth Hornblower
          daughter: Mary Anne Jevons
Education: School in Paradise Street, Liverpool: 1759
Politics: Whig
          First president of the Liverpool Royal Institution: 1817
          Honorary Associate, Royal Society of Literature: 1824
Literary period: Romantic
          Member of Parliament: October 1806
          Lodge Lane, Toxteth Park, Liverpool to 30 June 1831
          Old Bowling Green House, Mount Pleasant, Liverpool: 8 March 1753
          Allerton Hall, near Liverpool: 1799
Illness: Paralysis: December 1827
Cause of death: Influenza
Buried at: Chapel in Renshaw Street, Liverpool
First RPO edition: 1998