The first time the nursery rhyme was ever documented was in “Mother Goose’s Melody,” published in 1765. However, the 1st surviving version was published in English in 1791. Unlike many others in our article, this poem actually has a cheery disposition.
In fact, the story behind it is actually quite inspiring — at least one of them is. As one story goes, the rhyme is based on Thomas Horner, a schoolboy who gets sent to the corner by his teacher for rejecting a racist lesson. However, there are a few alternate theories behind the tune.
Tale or Ale?
There was also a drink called a Humpty Dumpty in the 17th century, which was made of brandy that was boiled with ale. It was also slang for a clumsy short person, in those times.
Some say the rhyme was originally created as a riddle, though no one is certain. There are many who believe it had something to do with a cannon that was a part of the English Civil War, as well, and there is a spoof version of the rhyme, written in 1956, based on that theory.
Little Jack Horner
"Little Jack Horner" is another famed English nursery rhyme that first popped up in the 18th century.
The rhyme, which comes along with a little tune like many others, goes like this: "Little Jack Horner, sat in the corner, eating his Christmas pie; He put in his thumb, and pulled out a plum, and said, "What a good boy am I!" So, where did this one originate from, exactly?
Bringing Politics Into It
The first known version of the rhyme, published in 1725, called Namby-Pamby, was written by Henry Carey and said to be a political satire. The target? Prime Minister Robert Walpole.
After that, a political theme started to develop, and other related poems and rhymes along with it. Samuel Bishop, for instance, wrote: “What are they but JACK HORNERS, who snug in their corners, cut the public pie freely? Till each with his thumb has squeezed out a plum, then he cries, ‘What a Great Man am I!’”
Ring Around the Rosie
"Ring Around the Rosie," AKA "Ring a Ring o'Roses," Is one of the most popular nursery rhymes, along with playground games, for children. In the modern version, particularly the one that's popular in the United States, the ending includes the line “ashes, ashes, we all fall down,” which sounds a bit ominous.
In the original English version, however, it sounds more as if the characters have developed a cold than kicked the bucket. It ends with, “a-tishoo, a-tishoo, we all fall down,” instead.