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Nursery Rhymes and Alphabets. 0692: Anon., Old Mother Goose

Author: Anon.
Title: Old Mother Goose
Cat. Number: 0692
Date: No date but c.1850
1st Edition:
Pub. Place: London
Publisher: W. S. Johnson, 60, St. Martin's Lane, Charing Cross
Pages: 1 vol., 10pp.
Size: 11 x 10.5 cm
Illustrations: Title-page vignette plus 8 coloured wood-cuts
Note: A pull-out book

Images of all pages of this book

Page 001 of item 0692

Introductory essay

'Mother Goose' was a character associated with rhymes for children long before Charles Perrault's 'Contes de Ma Mere L'Oye', or 'Mother Goose's Tales', were first published in 1697. Throughout the eighteenth century, she continued to be pressed into service as the putative author of many books for children, just as was the case with Tom Thumb and Mrs. Teachwell to name just two other such stock characters. In 1806 Mother Goose made what was probably her first appearance in a pantomime, Harlequin and Mother Goose; or, the Golden Egg being performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. Grimaldi played the clown. As The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature records, this association of Mother Goose with the fable of 'The Goose that laid the Golden Egg' was taken up in numerous chapbooks which featured a set of rhymes apparently based on the pantomime. It is these rhymes which appear in this chapbook in the Hockliffe Collection, called simply Old Mother Goose. The debt of such chapbooks to the stage production is shown, the Oxford Companion continues, 'by the verse in which Mother Goose touches her son Jack and his sweetheart with her wand and turns them into Harlequin and Columbine, this being a regular feature of early 19-th century pantomimes.' In the Hockliffe's version, this happens on p.8 and 11, and Jack is shown as Harlequin on p.6. The rest of the story, as it appears here, also sounds rather theatrical, designed to make the maximum use of stage machinery. It begins with Mother Goose riding her flying goose and Jack's purchase of the magic goose at market and subsequent sale of it to a Jew who cheats him of half his due. It continues with the Jew and a squire attacking Jack, which is followed by the transformation scene, and a golden egg being thrown into the sea only to be brought back by 'an odd fish'. To finish off proceedings, Mother Goose flies off on the magic goose to the moon. (Carpenter and Prichard 1984: 362-63 and 395)

In this version of Old Mother Goose the pages fold out. The Home Circle, 'a family magazine' published every week at one penny is advertised on the outside back cover. William B. Todd's A Dictionary of Printers records that W. S. Johnson worked at St. Martin's Lane from 1846-62. For other similar publications from Johnson see 0044 and 0675.

Carpenter, Humphrey & Pritchard, Mari, The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, Oxford: OUP, 1984

Todd, William B., A Directory of Printers and others in Allied Trades, London and vicinity, 1800-1840, London: Historical Society printing, 1972