Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Earliest Published Nursery Rhymes Book c.1744

Mary Cooper, whose two-volume Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book (1744) is the first known nursery rhyme collection, featuring early versions of well-known classics like ‘Bah, bah, a black sheep’, ‘Hickory dickory dock’, ‘London Bridge is falling down’ and ‘Sing a song of sixpence’.

The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes (1765) has a good claim to be called the first children’s novel. It tells the story of a poor orphan, Margery, who makes a career for herself as a teacher before, like a less glamorous Cinderella (with no fairy godmother, balls to attend, or glass slipper), she marries the local landowner whom she has impressed by her honesty, hard work and good sense.

Isn't this a much better story than Cinderella?

Click to enlarge the images found in a great article 
in the archives of The British Library



Linda Sand said...

Those are lovely. Thanks for sharing them.

Content in a Cottage said...

Linda Sand, I'm so glad we can go back almost 300 years to see what was being printed for children. Thanks for enjoying this post. xo, Rosemary

Pam said...

What treasures those first children's books are! Sometimes I forget how much things have changed. In the beginning, books were completely created by pen and ink and bound together by stitches. No doubt, what few books did exist ended up in the homes of the wealthy. It's interesting to see the changes in children's literature, down through time. I'm glad kids' books are plentiful and affordable nowadays!!

Tasha T said...

Yes, these are lovely little rhymes, and it's interesting to see how the words have evolved over time. I can remember chanting "...... Yes, sir, yes, sir, Three bags full. One for my Master, one for my Dame, and one for the little boy who lives down the lane." I don't remember My Mill Grinds at all.

Content in a Cottage said...

Tasha T -- My Mill Grinds isn't familiar to me either but I do remember singing Bah, Bah Black Sheep. xo, Rosemary

Content in a Cottage said...

Pam -- We are fortunate to have affordable prices for children's books, public libraries, and digitized copies on the internet. I love seeing the originals that somehow survived. xo, Rosemary