|Yes, yes. I know we've all seen this fairy picture. |
But it's a nice fairy picture and it's bleedin' three o'clock in the morning
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Steampunk on Sunday : Fairy Lights
What does that have to do with fairy lights?
In 1882 Gilbert and Sullivan premiered their new production of Iolanthe
at the Savoy Theatre.
Joseph Swan created the lights,
making it the first public building in the world to be lit by electricity.
That's all very well, but,
what does that have to do with fairy lights??!
The plot of Iolanthe has a lot of disaffected fairies,
death sentences and satire.
To offset the satire,
(and the rather dumpy fairies)
Gilbert and Sullivan wanted their costumes to be magical.
The costumes were fitted with little lights,
powered by a battery on the shoulder which was covered by flowing fairy wigs.
and the singers carried glowing wands.
(And you thought your LED Christmas earrings
were cutting edge technology...)
The effect had such a charm for the British imagination,
they call Christmas tree lights 'fairy lights' to this day.
The idea of little lights seems to have caught on rather well.
Huzzah for Joseph Swan and the invention of the light bulb.
Edison? Never heard of him.
Wasn't he a poor second to Tesla?