In loading some new titles to the John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection, I noticed an event popping up in several of the texts. The Lord Mayor’s Show, an event still held today, was a popular topic in British children’s books in the 1800s.
Children’s books in this era were often used to educate and explain people, place, nature and events to children. As the first example, Lord Mayor’s show, or, The 9th of November (1810) shows. This hand-colored picture book explains all the pageantry surrounding the event as well as takes the reader through each individual event that makes up the Show.
Another example shows how prominent events in children’s lives could always be used to teach a lesson. In The rose-bud: a flower in the juvenile garland, a poem entitled “Lord Mayor’s Show” shows a young boy exclaiming over all the pomp and circumstance around the traditional parade at the Lord Mayor’s Show. His parents are quick to point out it is the hard work the Lord Mayor puts in that is valued and not the gold of his carriage.
The Lord Mayor’s Show is one of the longest running events of its kind, dating back to the 16th century and still celebrated today on the same date as the young children in the 1800s would have celebrated it. Both of these examples show how children’s literature can give us a glimpse into how events have changed, or remained the same.
You can explore more books and poetry of the John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection through DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository. We’re adding new titles to the collection often so be sure to check back!