Nursery Rhymes History



Deciphering nursery rhymes history has led to quite a quandary.
The million dollar question:

Is Mother Goose of the famous mother goose nursery rhymes a myth or was she real?

Come with us as we sort through the nursery rhymes history and nursery rhyme origins to discover the truth.

The Search for the Real Mother Goose



Many great authors, poets and songwriters freely admit that their love of poetry and the literary process can be traced back to their childhood and mother goose nursery rhymes.

Many of the nursery rhymes we know by heart have been credited to a fictional goose - Mother Goose.

Was there ever really a Mother Goose? Obviously, not a real goose, but where did the legend begin?

Unfortunately, there are so many rumors, the truth may always remain a mystery. Many stories have been passed down through the ages. Opinions abound as to the possible origins of the true Mother Goose. This fact alone makes deciphering nursery rhymes history quite intriguing.

Some say the mother of King Charlemagne of the Franks might have been the original Mother Goose. French folklore, claims she was known as The Queen with the Goose Foot (710-783). A publishing in 1697 by Charles Perrault - Contes de ma mère L'Oye (Tales of Mother Goose) seems to underline this belief due to Queen Goose Foot being attributed that name as well.

Mother Goose's Melodies, published in 1719 in Boston, by Thomas Fleet. Mr. Fleet’s mother-in-law is thought to have been Elizabeth Vergoose, also known as Elizabeth Foster Goose, widow of Isaac Goose, from Boston, Massachusetts. According to local legend, she was a grandmother with many grandchildren who would gather them around her to sing songs and tell rhymes. Her son-in-law, Mr. Fleet, gathered the rhymes together and published his Mother Goose Rhymes. Is she the original Mother Goose?

More stories of a mother goose appear in English, French, Norse and German mythology, but none seem likely to be the original.

Could it be that Mother Goose is simply a mythical creation or a combination of many folktales passed down through the ages?

The first known collection of published Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes was in London by John Newbery in the year 1765. To my knowledge Mr. Newbery does not claim to have known Mother Goose. Having only published her works.

Perhaps, since no factual data has been found, yet many seem to continue the search, this is where the term “wild goose chase” originated? Hmmm? Just a thought.

Who ever she was, human or goose, she was brilliant. And most of all, she understood children. She understood that a child loves and needs a fantasy. She probably understood that we adults do as well, but have pushed that out of our lives in favor of duty and necessity and maturity. What a shame!

All we can hope is that mothers and fathers and grandmas and grandpas will never stop sharing these wonderful mother goose nursery rhyme lyrics with their children.

All we can hope is that as those children grow and prosper and live their lives and dream their dreams, and have children of their own, they too will share these wonderful nursery rhymes with their little ones, continuing the tradition for generations to come.

For a nursery rhyme lyric to remain and be remembered from centuries long gone. To still be fresh in the minds of parents today, is truly remarkable and I would hope that we would never lose their value.

Possibly we'll never know if Mother Goose was a myth or that she was, indeed, real. But . . .

May I leave you with a quote? Might this be - the Ma’am Goose herself? -- hmmm

“My dear little Blossoms, there are now in this world, and always will be, a great many grannies beside myself, both in petticoats and pantaloons, some a deal younger, to be sure, but all monstrous wise and of my own family name.

These old women, who never had chick or child of their own, but who always know how to bring up other people's children, will tell you with long faces that my enchanting, quieting, soothing volume, my all-sufficient anodyne for cross, peevish, won't-be-comforted little bairns, ought be laid aside for more learned books, such as they could select and publish.

Fudge! I tell you that all their batterings can't deface my beauties, nor their wise prattlings equal my wiser prattlings; and all imitators of my refreshing songs might as well write another Billy Shakespeare as another Mother Goose—we two great poets were born together, and shall go out of the world together.

No, no, my melodies will never die, while nurses sing, or babies cry.

From: "The Only True Mother Goose Melodies," Published by Munroe & Francis, Boston. 1833



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Nursery Rhymes History



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