Banks of Green Willow
Portrait of George Butterworth
The Life and Times of George Butterworth
by Anthony Murphy

About the book

Banks of Green Willow (Cappella Archive, 2nd ed. 2016) places the life and music of George Butterworth (1885-1916) in the cultural and political context of late Victorian and Edwardian England. It considers the intellectual and ideological origins of the folk-music movement, in which he was a central figure. It looks, too, at his close friends, the lives of many whom were sacrificed on the battlefields of the First World War.

The author has had access to a hitherto unpublished collection of Butterworth's correspondence, and other materials, deposited in the Bodleian Library by members of George Butterworth's family. Together with more recent documentation concerning his friends, they not only provide invaluable biographical detail, but also illustrate his single-mindedness of character, whether at Eton or Oxford, as an enthusiastic collector of folk-songs or a Morris dancer and, finally, as a very brave soldier.

Butterworth's music compositions are considered informatively but so as not to deter the general reader. Using extracts from his own diary, letters, and the regimental diary records of the Durham Light Infantry, the book concludes with an account of George Butterworth's war years, in which he was recommended three times for the Military Cross.


The author

Anthony Murphy unveiling a plaque to George on his boyhood home in York

Anthony Murphy unveiling a plaque to George on his boyhood home in York, which he was invited to do by the York Civic Trust in 2016.

Born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, Anthony Murphy holds masters' degrees from Brasenose College, Oxford University and the University of York, in addition to a part-time degree in history from the Open University. He has been involved as a practical musician since his teens, whether as an organist, singer or choral conductor and has contributed to the arts pages of several journals and written programme notes for music festivals and concerts. Since publishing his biography of George Butterworth, he has been in demand as a speaker both in the UK and in France. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and after a lengthy career in teaching in the south-east, he has returned to his native Yorkshire.

How to order a copy

Banks of Green Willow second edition

Signed copies are available for £20 (free postage in the UK). In the first instance please email to request a copy.