Fiddler’s Green

Fiddler's Green

In 19th-century English maritime folklore, Fiddler’s Green was an afterlife for sailors who had served at least fifty years at sea.

They were rewarded with perpetual mirth, a fiddle that never stopped playing, and dancers who never tired.

Fiddler’s Green appears in Frederick Marryat’s novel ‘The Dog Fiend; Or, Snarleyyow,’ published in 1856, as lyrics to a sailors’ song:

‘At Fiddler’s Green, where seamen true
When here they’ve done their duty
The bowl of grog shall still renew
And pledge to love and beauty.’

Herman Melville describes a Fiddler’s Green as a sailors’ term for the place on land ‘providentially set apart for dance-houses, doxies, and tapsters’ in his posthumous novella ‘Billy Budd, Sailor.’

The author Richard McKenna wrote a story, first published in 1967, entitled ‘Fiddler’s Green,’ in which he considers the power of the mind to create a reality of its own choosing, especially when a number of people consent to it. The main characters in this story are also sailors, and have known of the legend of Fiddler’s Green for many years.

In Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Sandman’ comic book series, Fiddler’s Green is a place located inside of the Dreaming, a place that sailors have dreamed of for centuries. Fiddler’s Green is also personified as a character as well as a location in the fictional world, the former largely based upon casual associations of English philosopher G. K. Chesterton.


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