The composer George Butterworth studied at Eton College and Trinity College, Oxford. At Oxford he came into contact with Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan Williams, with whom he made several trips into the countryside to collect folk songs. He was also a keen folk dancer and his music was strongly influenced by his enthusiasm for the folk tradition.
A nascent career as a composer, music critic and teacher was interrupted at the outbreak of the First World War when he joined the British army. He then destroyed many of his compositions, not knowing whether he would be able to revise them after the war had ended. In the event, he was killed in action during the Battle of the Somme in the night of 4–5 August 1916.
Butterworth’s settings for voice and piano of eleven poems from A.E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad are among his best known works. The first six songs in the set are grouped together as a cycle with the title A Shropshire Lad, while the remaining five songs have the title Bredon Hill and other songs from A Shropshire Lad.
This manuscript in Butterworth’s own handwriting forms part of the Galliard Collection, which consists of music manuscripts from the archive of the music publishers Galliard Ltd. and Augener, which published the two groups of songs in 1911 and 1912 respectively. It includes various markings relating to the first edition, including a stamp on the title page giving the number of engraved plates and other production details.