Home A short biography Available sheet music Roses of Picardy: the real story
About us Days in the life of Haydn Wood The recorded works The lyrics of Roses of Picardy
Contact us Haydn Wood and Slaithwaite Live performances Roses of Picardy printed music
  Haydn Wood and the Isle of Man   The performers of Roses of Picardy
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Our CD A Breezy Ballad Haydn Wood and films   Les enregistrements de Roses de Picardie
Our lectures Haydn Wood 2009   Roses of Picardy in films
      Roses of Picardy: a research in progress

 

 

 

Roses of Picardy
The real story

 

 

 

Many articles in different newspapers, magazines and on the Internet, and various books maintain that the words of Roses of Picardy were written in Picardy, France, during WWI, by a wounded English officer whose nurse brought him bouquets of roses, or by an English soldier in love with a war widow who grew roses in her garden, or…

Actually, the lyricist of Roses of Picardy, Fred E. Weatherly, having been born in 1848, was 66 years old in 1914. This simple fact of his age proves that he could neither have been conscripted nor have been accepted as a volunteer in the British Army. Thus, Roses of Picardy was not written in Picardy during the Great War.

Weatherly was a barrister based in London and in Bristol, who went the Western Circuit. During WWI, he also pleaded cases for military courts in the Salisbury Plain. Sometimes at night, but especially between two appointments or on the train between two trials, he wrote poems and songs - about three thousand songs, of which about half were set to music and published.

Circa 1923, Weatherly told a columnist the genesis of Roses of Picardy. He was aprroached by Herbert Brower who had set to music one of Weatherly's lyrics. But another composer had already acquired the rights to the same lyrics. So Brewer asked Weatherly if he would write new words for the music he had composed. Weatherly agreed to do so and Roses of Picardy was the result. It was submitted to a music publisher who declined the offer. His words being thus set free, Weatherly sent them to Haydn Wood.

In his memoires published in 1926, Weatherly recounted that he travelled to Paris several times, and that he visited the Rhone Valley and Chamonix. In this same book, he mentioned Roses of Picardy, but without telling the circumstances of his inspiration. At least, he did reveal generalities about how he got ideas for his love songs: 'Are they all personal? If so, I would have had a busy time and a varied experience. Some are, perhaps. But many of them have been written round the love story of a very dear friend of mine.' One will have to leave it at that.

Photo : Fred E. Weatherly in 1920. Collection Anthony Mann.
Minutes of trials, The National Archives, United Kingdom.
From Here, There, and Everywhere, Musings by Sundry Scribes, Wells Journal, 17 August 1923.
Fred E. Weatherly, Piano and Gown (London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1926).

 


Home A short biography Available sheet music Roses of Picardy: the real story
About us Days in the life of Haydn Wood The recorded works The lyrics of Roses of Picardy
Contact us Haydn Wood and Slaithwaite Live performances Roses of Picardy printed music
  Haydn Wood and the Isle of Man   The performers of Roses of Picardy
The Haydn Wood Music Shop Haydn Wood, symphonist   A discography of Roses of Picardy
Our CD A Breezy Ballad Haydn Wood and films   Les enregistrements de Roses de Picardie
Our lectures Haydn Wood 2009   Roses of Picardy in films
      Roses of Picardy: a research in progress

This page last modified 9 January 2017.

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