Our Dream of John Ball fridge magnet is inspired by the 1888 novel 'A dream of John Ball' by William Morris and the frontispiece by Edward Burne-Jones. The novel is about the great revolt of 1381, conventionally called the Peasants' Revolt. It features the rebel priest John Ball (c.1338-1381) who took a prominent part and was accused of being a Lollard (a follower of John Wycliffe). He is famed for this statement:
"When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman? From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men. For if God would have had any bondmen from the beginning, He would have appointed who should be bond, and who free. And therefore I exhort you to consider that now the time is come, appointed to us by God, in which ye may (if ye will) cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty."
Ball was eventually taken prisoner and put on trial then hanged, drawn and quartered in the presence of King Richard II. His head was stuck on a pike and displayed on London Bridge.
Ball had voiced the feelings of a section of the discontented lower orders of society at that time, who chafed at serfdom and the lords' rights of unpaid labour. He was largely portrayed negatively for four centuries after his death in theological works, plays, poems, and popular histories. However, after the 1790s, Ball became a hero for radicals, revolutionaries, socialists, as well as becoming a more respected figure in English history and literature.