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Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater Rhyme

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Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater Rhyme
Nursery Rhyme & History
American origins in "Peter Peter pumpkin eater"
The lyrics of the "Peter Peter pumpkin eater" rhyme (unlike most) originate not in Europe, but in America. This rhyme is has become known to British children only in recent years as for most British children it has only just become clear exactly what a pumpkin is! As it is not indigenous to the British shores the vast majority of the British population have never eaten pumpkin! The American tradition of dressing up for Halloween (and the subsequent use of the pumpkin for making lanterns) together with 'Trick or Treat' has only reached our shores a few years ago.


Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater poem
Peter Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife and couldn't keep her!
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well





Pop goes the Weasel
Rhyme Lyrics, Origins and History
Rhyme & History
The Nursery Rhyme, 'Pop goes the weasel' sounds quite incomprehensible in this day an age! The origins of the rhyme are believed to date back to the 1700's. We have listed two versions of the rhyme on this page. The first rhyme is the better known version - some translation is in order!
Pop and Weasel?
These words are derived from Cockney Rhyming slang which originated in London. Cockneys were a close community and had a suspicion of strangers and a dislike of the Police (they still do!) Cockneys developed a language of their own based roughly on a rhyming slang - it was difficult for strangers to understand as invariably the second noun would always be dropped. Apples and Pears ( meaning stairs) would be abbreviated to just 'apples', for instance, "watch your step on the apples". To "Pop" is the slang word for "Pawn". Weasel is derived from "weasel and stoat" meaning coat. It was traditional for even poor people to own a suit, which they wore as their 'Sunday Best'. When times were hard they would pawn their suit, or coat, on a Monday and claim it back before Sunday. Hence the term " Pop goes the Weasel"
In and out the Eagle?
The words to the Rhyme are "Up and down the City road, in and out the Eagle -
That’s the way the money goes - Pop! goes the weasel". The Eagle refers to 'The Eagle Tavern' a pub which is located on the corner of City Road and Shepherdess Walk in Hackney, North London. The Eagle was an old pub which was re-built as a music hall in 1825. Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was known to frequent the Music Hall. It was purchased by the Salvation Army in 1883 ( they were totally opposed to drinking and Music Halls). The hall was later demolished and was rebuilt as a public house in 1901.
Alternative Lyrics
"A penny for a spool of thread, a penny for a needle" - this version has led to a 'weasel' being interpreted as a shuttle or bobbin, as used by silk weavers, being pawned in a similar way as the suits or jackets owned by the Cockneys.
Pop goes the weasel
Nursery Rhyme lyrics, origins and history

Pop goes the Weasel
Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.
Up and down the City road,
In and out the Eagle,
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Picture of the Eagle as a Music Hall
Alternative Lyrics
A penny for a spool of thread,
A penny for a needle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel. Alternative Lyrics (2)
Every night when I go out
The monkey's on the table
Take a stick and knock it off
Pop goes the weasel
Alternative Lyrics (3)
Round and round the mulberry bush
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey stopped to pull up his socks
And Pop goes the weasel. Additional Lyrics (4)
I've no time to plead and pine
I've no time to wheedle
Kiss me quick, and then I'm gone
Pop! Goes the weasel"

Alternative Lyrics (2)
Our thanks go to Robert Creed and his family for this verse and interpretation of the lyrics - A 'monkey' is Cockney rhyming slang for £500. Robert also suggests that weasel was a type of iron used by tailors, so the rhyme relates to them pawning the tools of their trade in order to be able to go to the pub.
Alternative Lyrics (3)
Our thanks go to Jesse from Perth, Western Australia for these lyrics, which seem to be in combination with another children's song 'Here we go round the mulberry bush'. Lee speculates that if a monkey is £500, then perhaps the coat and money are being exchanged back and forth until something else comes up




Rain Rain go Away
Nursery Rhyme & History
History of "Rain rain go away" poem
The origin of the lyrics to "Rain rain go away" are said to date back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), one of the English Tudor monarchs. During this period of English history there was constant rivalry between Spain and England culminating in the launch of the Spanish Armada in 1588. The Spanish Armada consisted of many Spanish galleons and was sent to invade England. The Armada was led by Duke of Medina Sedonia and the the fleet numbered over 130 ships. The English fleet, under Admiral Lord Howard, totalled 34 small Navy vessels and 163 armed merchant ships. But the great Spanish Armada was defeated. Only 65 Spanish galleons and just 10,000 men returned to Spain. The attempt failed, not only because of the swift nature of the smaller English ships but also by the stormy weather which scattered the Armada fleet. Hence the origin of the "Rain rain go away" Nursery rhyme!

Picture of Sir Francis Drake playing bowls
on Plymouth Ho prior to defeating
the Spanish Armada
Rain Rain go Away poem
Rain rain go away,
Come again another day.
Little Johnny wants to play;
Rain, rain, go to Spain,
Never show your face again




words of the Banbury Cross nursery rhyme are often attributed to Queen Elizabeth I of England (the fine lady) who travelled to Banbury to see a huge stone cross which had just been erected. The words 'With rings on her fingers' obviously relates to the fine jewellery which would be worn by a Queen. The words 'And bells on her toes' refer to the fashion of attaching bells to the end of the pointed toes of each shoe - this fashion actually originates from the Plantagenet era of English history but was associated with the nobility for some time! Banbury was situated at the top of a steep hill and in order to help carriages up the steep incline a white cock horse (a large stallion) was made available by the town's council to help with this task. When the Queen's carriage attempted to go up the hill a wheel broke and the Queen chose to mount the cock horse and ride to the Banbury cross. The people of the town had decorated the cock horse with ribbons and bells and provided minstrels to accompany her - "she shall have music wherever she goes". The massive stone cross at Banbury was unfortunately later destroyed by anti - Catholics who opposed the notion of pilgrimages.


Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross
Nursery Rhyme poem
Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes
Alternative meaning to the Banbury Cross English Nursery Rhyme
Our grateful thanks is extended to David Miller for the following information:
"The woman in question was in fact Lady Katherine Banbury, wife of Lord Jonathan Banbury. Miss Amy Banbury, sub matron of Auckland hospital, New Zealand (my grandfather's cousin) recalled after World War I her grandfather, Squire of Burford near Banbury in Oxfordshire, telling her that he distinctly recalled the white horse on which the "fine lady" used to ride. Among Lady Banbury's jewels were many very beautiful rings of which she was very fond. The bells were the tiny bells often used in those days to trim the edges of a lady's velvet saddle cloth. Miss Amy Banbury had a copy of the music written for the rhyme by a well known musician of the day, along with fine oak furniture from Banbury Castle. These matters were reported in the New Zealand Herald some years after the end of World War I "



Ring Around the Rosy Rhyme
Origins of "Ring around the rosy" in English History
Connections to the Bubonic Plague (Black Death)?
The words to the Ring around the rosy children's ring game have their origin in English history . The historical period dates back to the Great Plague of London in 1665 (bubonic plague) or even before when the first outbreak of the Plague hit England in the 1300's. The symptoms of the plague included a rosy red rash in the shape of a ring on the skin (Ring around the rosy). Pockets and pouches were filled with sweet smelling herbs ( or posies) which were carried due to the belief that the disease was transmitted by bad smells. The term "Ashes Ashes" refers to the cremation of the dead bodies! The death rate was over 60% and the plague was only halted by the Great Fire of London in 1666 which killed the rats which carried the disease which was transmitting via water sources. The English version of "Ring around the rosy" replaces Ashes with (A-tishoo, A-tishoo) as violent sneezing was another symptom of the disease. We recommend the following site for comprehensive information regarding the Bubonic Plague.
www.william-shakespeare.info/bub....htm

Views of the Sceptics
The connection between this Rhyme was made by James Leasor in 1961 in his non-fiction book ' The Plague and the Fire. Some people are sceptical of the plague interpretations of this rhyme, many stating that words in the rhyme cannot be found in Middle English. The sceptics must be referring to the later version of the rhyme, possibly with American origins, the English version is "Ring a ring o' rosies" using the Middle English "o" as a shortening of the word "of". The written word " posies" is first mentioned in a poem called 'Prothalamion or A Spousal Verse' by Edmund Spenser (1552-1599). We believe that this addresses the views of the sceptics.


Picture of a Plague Physician
of the 17th Century

Ring around the rosy
AKA as Ring a ring o' rosies
Ring around the rosy
A pocketful of posies
"Ashes, Ashes"
We all fall down! Ring-a-Ring o'Rosies
A Pocket full of Posies
"A-tishoo! A-tishoo!"
We all fall Down




Simple Simon
Nursery Rhyme & History
Origin of the lyrics to "Simple Simon"
In the days before fast food and convenience stores were invented food was sold from street sellers from trays of food. A fair was an extremely popular place to sell 'your ware' The tradition and history of fairs dates back to Medieval England. The term 'Adieu' meaning 'Goodbye' is no longer used in the English language but will never be lost forever due to rhymes such as Simple Simon! The modern day version of Simple Simon can be found in the song and a game where children have to do exactly what "Simple Simon" says!
Picture of Southwark Fair, in London

Simple Simon poem
Simple Simon met a pieman going to the fair;
Said Simple Simon to the pieman "Let me taste your ware"
Said the pieman to Simple Simon "Show me first your penny"
Said Simple Simon to the pieman "Sir, I have not any!"

Simple Simon went a-fishing for to catch a whale;
All the water he had got was in his mother's pail.
Simple Simon went to look if plums grew on a thistle;
He pricked his fingers very much which made poor Simon whistle.
He went for water in a sieve but soon it all fell through;
And now poor Simple Simon bids you all "Adieu"




Sing a Song of Sixpence
(Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie)
Nursery Rhyme & History
Action words to the poem " Sing a song of sixpence" Rhyme with some history!
Lovely words to this children's action nursery rhyme which is often referred to as blackbirds baked in a pie probably because the image that blackbirds baked in a pie would create in a child's mind . The rye ( a pocketful of rye) was purchased to feed birds. Blackbirds, and other song birds, were actually eaten as a delicacy! However a court jester may well have suggested to the court cook to bake a pie pastry crust and place this over some live blackbirds to surprise and amuse the King! It would not be unreasonable for the blackbirds to look for revenge hence "When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!" It is interesting to note that the references to the counting house and eating honey were the common man's perception of what a King and Queen spent their time doing. The nursery rhyme Sing a song of sixpence or blackbirds baked in a pie always end with the tweaking of a child's nose!



Sing a song of sixpence
AKA blackbirds in a pie
Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?
The king was in his counting house counting out his money,
The queen was in the parlour eating bread and honey
The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!
Additional Information about the Sing a Song of Sixpence Nursery Rhyme History
Our grateful thanks goes to Rebecca Harris for providing the following additional information:
"During the Medieval times, there were occasions when the cook in the house of a wealthy knight did indeed put live birds (often pigeons, but I'm sure it could just as easily have been blackbirds) inside a huge pastry crust, on his own initiative. This was seen as a great joke and the cook would usually have a real pie waiting to bring in when the birds had been released."




Starlight Star Bright Rhyme
Nursery Rhyme & History
Nursery rhyme of "Starlight star bright" with American history
The lyrics to the "Starlight star bright" rhyme are believed to be of late 19th century American origin and the words allude to the fantasy that you can wish upon a star. This "Starlight star bright" poem has no doubt been used on many occasions to quieten a child or children ready for bedtime as they look out of the window waiting to see "Starlight star bright" - the very first starlight!

A Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme
Starlight star bright poem
Star Light Star bright,
The first star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight


Three Blind Mice Rhyme
Nursery Rhyme & History
The origin of the 'tale' of Three blind mice!
The origin of the words to the Three blind mice rhyme are based in English history. The 'farmer's wife' refers to the daughter of King Henry VIII, Queen Mary I. Mary was a staunch Catholic and her violent persecution of Protestants led to the nickname of 'Bloody Mary'. The reference to 'farmer's wife' in Three blind mice refers to the massive estates which she, and her husband King Philip of Spain, possessed. The 'three blind mice' were three noblemen who adhered to the Protestant faith who were convicted of plotting against the Queen - she did not have them dismembered and blinded as inferred in Three blind mice - but she did have them burnt at the stake! Another Nursery Rhyme which features 'Bloody Mary' can be found as follows: Mary Mary Quite Contrary Nursery Rhyme


The drawing depicts Queen Mary I
Old Illustration of the Rhyme
Three Blind Mice rhyme poem
AKA - 3 Blind Mice
Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice?





There was an Old Lady Rhyme
Nursery Rhyme Origin
Nonsense rhyme which aids memory retention.
A favourite Nursery rhyme amongst children whose famous lyrics of "There was an old lady" aid memory retention. The poem is a relatively modern rhyme and therefore has no origin in history! The imagery of "There was an old lady" paints a very strong picture which stimulates the imagination whilst emphasising the relative sizes and order of the creatures mentioned. The lyrics to "There was an old lady" become more incredulous as they progress and there is almost a sense of relief and also astonishment at the startling ending of the story! "There was an old lady" is perhaps better described as a traditional folksong, the words of which have been set to music and recorded by many various artists.


There was an Old Lady song
There was an old lady who swallowed a fly
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wriggled and wiggled and tiggled inside her;
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a bird;
How absurd to swallow a bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a cat;
Fancy that to swallow a cat!
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady that swallowed a dog;
What a hog, to swallow a dog;
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a cow,
I don't know how she swallowed a cow;
She swallowed the cow to catch the dog,
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a horse...
She's dead, of course





This is the House that Jack built
Origins of 'This is the house that Jack built!' Nursery Rhyme
The origin of the lyrics to 'This is the house that Jack built' cannot be traced to specific people or historical events but merely reflect the everyday characters and lifestyle which could have been found in rural England and date back to the sixteenth century. The phrase 'This is the house that Jack built' is often used as a derisory term in describing a badly constructed building!


This is the House that Jack built poem
This is the house that Jack built!
This is the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cock that crowed in the morn
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the farmer sowing his corn
That kept the cock that crowed in the morn
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built!



This Little Piggy
Finger or toe rhyme for "This little piggy"!
The words for "This little piggy" nursery rhyme are used to point out each one of the child's toes! The last line in "This little piggy" is used to accompany the child being tickled by the narrator of the poem! This rhyme is extremely popular which ensures that it will be passed from generation to generation. The first publication date for the words and lyrics for this nursery rhyme was in 1728.

A Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme
This Little Piggy poem
This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy went...
"Wee wee wee" all the way home...



Tom Tom the Pipers Son
Nursery Rhyme & History
Origin of Tom Tom the pipers son in Scotland?
The words of Tom Tom the pipers son were not based on a person in Scottish history (pipers son). The title 'piper's son' referred to any piper in the English army or navy. This nonsense rhyme for children had an obvious moral! The words used in the phrase 'went roaring down the street' are unusual and convey the strength of the beating. The origin of "Tom Tom the Piper's son" date back to the 18th century.

A Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme
Tom Tom the Pipers Son poem
Tom Tom the pipers son
Stole a pig and away he ran,
The pig was eat and Tom was beat
And Tom went roaring down the street





Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Rhyme
Imagery used in Twinkle twinkle little star
The beautiful words of Twinkle twinkle little star have been immortalised in the poem and music has been added thus increasing its popularity. The simile ' like a diamond in the sky' teaches children how words can be used to paint a picture in the imagination. The words create a comparison between the twinkling of the star to a sparkling diamond thus providing a perfect illustration of clever imagery and excellent use of the English language. The joint authors of Twinkle twinkle little star were two sisters called Ann Taylor (1782-1866) and Jane Taylor (1783-1824).
The first publication date was 1806.

A Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star poem
Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are?
Up above the world so high , like a diamond in the sky
When the blazing sun is gone, when he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light, twinkle, twinkle all the night.
Then the traveller in the dark, thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go, if you did not twinkle so.
In the dark blue sky you keep, and often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye, 'till the sun is in the sky.
As your bright and tiny spark lights the traveller in the dark,
Though I know not what you are - twinkle, twinkle little star.



Wee Willie Winkie
The origin of the Wee Willie Winkie rhyme
The explanation of the words to Wee Willie Winkie was to teach children to associate every day tasks with their own lives. Before the days of the wireless, television and the Internet great reliance was put upon the Town Crier to pass on the latest news and information. 'Wee Willie Winkie' was the children's version of the Town Crier! The author of the poem was William Miller (1810 - 1872) and the first publication date of the words to Wee Willie Winkie was in 1841.

A Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme
Wee Willie Winkie rhyme poem
Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown,
Tapping at the window and crying through the lock,
Are all the children in their beds, it's past eight o'clock?





What are Little Boys made of ?
Nursery Rhyme & History
The words to "What are little boys made of"
The origin of the "What are little boys made of" poem can be traced to the early 19th century - the battle of the sexes was raging even then! The words of "What are little boys made of" obviously reflect this, but what is the meaning of 'snips and snails'? Several interpretations have been suggested but the one with the most credibility is that the original words were in fact 'snips of snails' - the origin of snips meaning 'little bits of'. No redemption there for describing what little boys are made of'! And, of course, little girls love to hear that they are made of
"Sugar and spice and all things nice!

A Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme
What are Little Boys made of poem
What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That's what little boys are made of !"
What are little girls made of?
"Sugar and spice and all things nice
That's what little girls are made of!"





Who killed Cock Robin
Nursery Rhyme & History
The origin of the "Who killed cock robin" poem
'Who killed cock robin?' is best described as an English folksong or poem rather than a nursery rhyme. The words of "Who killed cock robin" are said to refer to the death of the legendary figure of Robin Hood and not that of a bird. The legend of Robin Hood encompasses the theme that he stole from the rich to give to the poor. The words of "Who killed cock robin" describe how help was offered from all quarters following the death of cock robin thus reflecting the high esteem in which Robin was held by the common folk.
Our grateful thanks goes to Damon Kingshott for this alternative explanation of this Nursery Rhyme
"There is speculation that the 'Cock Robin' Rhyme refers to Robert Walpole, the 18th century English Prime Minister." Picture of Robin Hood and
his Merry Men

Who killed Cock Robin poem
"Who killed Cock Robin?" "I," said the Sparrow,
"With my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin."
"Who saw him die?" "I," said the Fly,
"With my little eye, I saw him die."
"Who caught his blood?" "I," said the Fish,
"With my little dish, I caught his blood."
"Who'll make the shroud?" "I," said the Beetle,
"With my thread and needle, I'll make the shroud."
"Who'll dig his grave?" "I," said the Owl,
"With my pick and shovel, I'll dig his grave."
"Who'll be the parson?" "I," said the Rook,
"With my little book, I'll be the parson."
"Who'll be the clerk?" "I," said the Lark,
"If it's not in the dark, I'll be the clerk."
"Who'll carry the link?" "I," said the Linnet,
"I'll fetch it in a minute, I'll carry the link."
"Who'll be chief mourner?" "I," said the Dove,
"I mourn for my love, I'll be chief mourner."
"Who'll carry the coffin?" "I," said the Kite,
"If it's not through the night, I'll carry the coffin."
"Who'll bear the pall? "We," said the Wren,
"Both the cock and the hen, we'll bear the pall."
"Who'll sing a psalm?" "I," said the Thrush,
"As she sat on a bush, I'll sing a psalm."
"Who'll toll the bell?" "I," said the bull,
"Because I can pull, I'll toll the bell."
All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll for poor Cock Robin


Mother Goose
Origins
Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme Publications
The first known publication of a collection of Nursery Rhymes was in 1744 and the first confirmed collection of Nursery Rhymes using the term "Mother Goose" was published in 1780, although a collection of stories called "Mother Goose's Tales" was published in 1729! The Mother Goose title had caught the imagination of printers, publishers and the population! Invariably the illustrations accompanying the publications depicted 'Mother Goose' as an old crone, or a witch. Various claims have been made claiming ownership of the term 'Mother Goose'. Our search for the origins of the term "Mother Goose" have established the following information.
The French Connection
1650 - The earliest known written reference, which uses the term 'Mother Goose' in relation to a collection of stories, was in a monthly periodical by the French critic Jean Loret (1610 - 1665) in his 1650 "La Muse Historique" which contains the line, "Comme un conte de la Mere Oye" which translates into "Like a Mother Goose story".
1697 - A collection of eight famous folk tales which included "Sleeping Beauty", "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Cinderella" was published in 1697 by a French man called Charles Perrault. The book was called "Histories and Tales of Long Ago, with Morals". The frontispiece (the fronting of the first page, or titlepage, of a book) contained the words "Contes de ma mère l'Oye" or "Tales of Mother Goose" but contained none of the rhymes we associate with Mother Goose, most of which have obvious English origins. The illustration on the frontispiece depicted an old witch-like woman spinning and telling stories.
The English Theory
1729 - Perrault's tales were translated into English in 1729 by Robert Samber and published in the same year. The words on the frontispiece were "Mother Goose's Tales"
1744 - The earliest known collection of Nursery Rhymes called "Tommy Thumb's Song Book" was published in London by Mary Cooper
1744 - In 1744 a bookseller and publisher called John Newbery (1713-1767) set up his business in St. Paul’s churchyard. He published his first children’s book in the same year called "The Little Pretty Pocket Book" which was dedicated to “the Parents, Guardians and Nurses in Great Britain and Ireland”. It was an instant hit and it became apparent to John Newbery that his firm could make substantial profits by publishing children's tales and rhymes and established Children's literature as an important branch of the publishing business. His most successful publication was "Little Goody Two Shoes" which was published in 1766.
1780 - Thomas Carnan, the stepson of John Newbery, became the owner of the Newbery Publishing House following Newbery's death in 1767. Thomas Carnan entered the title "Mother Goose's Melody - or Sonnets for the Cradle" at the London
Stationer's Hall. It was described as a compilation of traditional English nonsense songs and rhymes. It contained fifty-two rhymes each with its own black and white illustration. , it was it was given additional marketing credibility by the inclusion of sixteen verses from Shakespeare.
The American Story
Within a few years there were several pirated editions of the Newbery Mother Goose published in America, one with the picture of a sharp-nosed old crone addressing two children as follows:
"Fudge! I tell you that all their batterings can't deface my beauties, nor their wise pratings my wiser prattlings; and all imitators of my refreshing songs might as well try to write a new Billy Shakespeare as another Mother Goose! We two great poets were born together, and we shall go out of the world together. No, No, my Melodies will never die, While nurses sing, or babies cry."
1786 - Isaiah Thomas published the first authorised American edition of "Mother Goose's Melody"
1860 - It was claimed in 1860 that a collection of Mother Goose children's nursery rhymes had been published in Boston by Thomas Fleet in 1719 under the title "Songs of the Nursery; or, Mother Goose's Melodies for Children." On the title page was the picture of a goose with a very long neck and a mouth wide open, and below this, "Printed by T. Fleet, at his Printing House in Pudding Lane, 1719. Price, two coppers." Thomas Fleet was born in England in 1685 and moved to America in 1812 - he died in Boston, Massachusetts in 1758. He married Elizabeth Goose (written also Vergoose and Vertigoose), the daughter of a wealthy Bostonian on 8th June 1715 and it is claimed that he used her name to originate the term "Mother Goose". The claim has been investigated but there is no evidence to support it. There is not a single known copy of any such book in existence or indeed any documented record relating to a book with this title prior to the date the claim was made.
1878 - Mother Goose in White was published
1879 - The Old Fashioned Mother Goose Melodies were published
1916 - Rand McNally & Company re published the collection of Mother Goose Rhymes as "The Real Mother Goose"
1928 - Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes arranged by Logan Marshall was published in Chicago with illustrations by Julia Greene
1958 - The Space Child's Mother Goose by Fredrick Winsor was published in New York with illustrations by Marian Parry
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