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The Diverting History of John Gilpin

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The Diverting History of John Gilpin is a comic ballad by William Cowper about John Gilpin, written in 1782. The ballad concerns a draper called John Gilpin who rides a runaway horse. Cowper heard the story from Lady Anna Austen at a time of severe depression, and it cheered him up so much that he put it into verse. The poem was published anonymously in the Public Advertis The Diverting History of John Gilpin is a comic ballad by William Cowper about John Gilpin, written in 1782. The ballad concerns a draper called John Gilpin who rides a runaway horse. Cowper heard the story from Lady Anna Austen at a time of severe depression, and it cheered him up so much that he put it into verse. The poem was published anonymously in the Public Advertiser in 1782, and then published with The Task in 1785. It was very popular, to the extent that "pirate copies were being sold all across the country, together with Gilpin books and toys." The poem was republished in 1878, illustrated by Randolph Caldecott and printed by Edmund Evans. Caldecott's image of Gilpin riding the horse is the basis for the design of the obverse of the Caldecott Medal.


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The Diverting History of John Gilpin is a comic ballad by William Cowper about John Gilpin, written in 1782. The ballad concerns a draper called John Gilpin who rides a runaway horse. Cowper heard the story from Lady Anna Austen at a time of severe depression, and it cheered him up so much that he put it into verse. The poem was published anonymously in the Public Advertis The Diverting History of John Gilpin is a comic ballad by William Cowper about John Gilpin, written in 1782. The ballad concerns a draper called John Gilpin who rides a runaway horse. Cowper heard the story from Lady Anna Austen at a time of severe depression, and it cheered him up so much that he put it into verse. The poem was published anonymously in the Public Advertiser in 1782, and then published with The Task in 1785. It was very popular, to the extent that "pirate copies were being sold all across the country, together with Gilpin books and toys." The poem was republished in 1878, illustrated by Randolph Caldecott and printed by Edmund Evans. Caldecott's image of Gilpin riding the horse is the basis for the design of the obverse of the Caldecott Medal.

30 review for The Diverting History of John Gilpin

  1. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    The horse racing on the seal of the Caldecott medal comes from this story. Caldecott illustrated it, but William Cowper wrote the ballad. A man is going for a ride with his family when he mounts his horse and it wildly takes off. He races through the town and some think it's a race and others think the horse was stolen and John is trying to stop the horse. He eventually gets back home minus wig and hat. I enjoy Caldecott's art. It's whimsical and fun and full of action. Of course not compared to The horse racing on the seal of the Caldecott medal comes from this story. Caldecott illustrated it, but William Cowper wrote the ballad. A man is going for a ride with his family when he mounts his horse and it wildly takes off. He races through the town and some think it's a race and others think the horse was stolen and John is trying to stop the horse. He eventually gets back home minus wig and hat. I enjoy Caldecott's art. It's whimsical and fun and full of action. Of course not compared to modern standards. This is from the 1870's. The old English was a bit awkward to read at times. I still enjoyed it. The kids kept asking what words meant. There was a lot they didn't understand at first and they did catch on.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tweedledum

    This was a childhood favourite often read delightfully to me by my mum who had acquired second hand copy somewhere. Mum revelled in rhyme and knew many long poems off by heart. To have this beautifully illustrated to look at as she gleefully recited echo verse with mounting urgency in her voice as Gilpin encounters more and more problems as he tries to get to his own wedding feast. When mum first read this I only knew of William Cowper through his lovely but very serious hymns. IT was a joy to d This was a childhood favourite often read delightfully to me by my mum who had acquired second hand copy somewhere. Mum revelled in rhyme and knew many long poems off by heart. To have this beautifully illustrated to look at as she gleefully recited echo verse with mounting urgency in her voice as Gilpin encounters more and more problems as he tries to get to his own wedding feast. When mum first read this I only knew of William Cowper through his lovely but very serious hymns. IT was a joy to discover his sense of fun. The book disappeared somewhere in a house move and I was delighted to find a copy of my own browsing a second hand book store on holiday one year.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Obviously very old, but quite funny! Told in old British rhyme, it was an exciting, comical tale. The illustrations were both in color and just line drawings and contained much detail and sometimes humor. I'm very glad I read what Randolph Caldecott illustrated. If this was the first picture book for children, it's very easy to see how it impressed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    I read this because it is considered one of the first picture books for children ever published. I also read it because it is illustrated by Randolph Caldecott, for whom the Caldecott Award for illustrations named. I found it rather funny and the illustrations were cool.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rob Toscano

    very funny I read a 1905 edition illustrated by Robert Seaver, beautifully done.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

    I gave this two stars a few years ago as I didn’t really enjoy it. But I’ve read it again and found more appreciation for Cowper’s humour. It really is silly stuff.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    An amusing literary comedy classic, much enhanced by Searle's illustrations.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joey

    Delightful!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This was in the local history section at work so I picked it up. It was actually quite amusing!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mckinley

  11. 4 out of 5

    Monique Dinkel

  12. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  14. 5 out of 5

    Zheng

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Brown

  16. 4 out of 5

    Samia

  17. 4 out of 5

    Wid

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karl Hickey

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dean Duncan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Srijan Shetty

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eclectic Indulgence

  25. 4 out of 5

    Meaghen

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ardis

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  28. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  29. 4 out of 5

    Guen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Good, pretty funny.

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