From Troubled Dreams

THIS is the BEETLE, with her thread and needle (above) suggests a kind of domesticated Gregor Samsa,* but it well precedes Kafka. There’s no Virginia connection here, but when I first saw this image (here) I had to know more. With a little digging, I found some info from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Oh, and before you do a double-take, yes, the artist was sometimes known under the pseudonym Dykwynkyn.

This is a design by Richard Wynn Keene or Dykwynkyn (1809–1887), for a character in an un-named pantomime, ca.1860, for a beetle wearing a mob cap and apron, inscribed ‘This is the Beetle, with her thread and needle’, a beetle standing on her back legs and manipulating a large needle with two front right legs into a lace-edged cloth she holds with her two front left legs. We do not know the pantomime in which this character featured, but it would have had a scene relating to the death of Cock Robin since the beetle is the character in the traditional nursery rhyme Who Killed Cock Robin? who offers to make a shroud for Cock Robin. In an article of 1867 the playwright T. W. Robertson described Dykwynkyn as “the presiding genius of all theatrical Christmas revels.”

Quick fact: He also invented, with J. D. Greenwood, Keenes cement. As for who killed cock-robin, Walt Disney has the answer:
* Gregor Samsa, by the way, is the name of a moody Virginia band.


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