Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe


Version 1

There was an old woman
Who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children
She didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth
And a big slice of bread,
Kissed them all soundly
And sent them to bed.

(Mother Goose Club Version)

Version 2

There was an old woman
Who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children,
She didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth,
Without any bread,
She whipped them all around,
And sent them to bed.

Source: Smith, The Little Mother Goose (1912)


Version 3

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
She whipp'd all their bums, and sent them to bed.

Source: Joseph Ritson, Gammer Gurton's Garland (1794)



Historical Background

The earliest record of “Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” was printed in Joseph Ritson’s “Gammer Gurton’s Garland” in 1794. This version included the additional last line “She whipp’d all their bums, and sent them to bed.” Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the classic rhyme was varied many times. The rhyme is reputedly linked to both Queen Caroline, who had eight children, and Elizabeth Vergoose of Boston, who had six of her own children and ten step-children. Other than their many children, there is no evidence connecting these figures to the rhyme.

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