There Was a Little Girl

Version 1

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.

And when she was good,
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad, she was horrid!

Source: The Real Mother Goose (1916)

Version 2

There was a little girl, and she had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead;
When she was good, she was very, very good,
But when she was bad, she was horrid.

One day she went upstairs, while her parents, unawares,
In the kitchen down below were occupied with meals;
And she stood upon her head, on her little truckle bed,
And she then began hurraying with her heels.

Her mother heard the noise, and thought it was the boys
A-playing at a combat in the attic;
But when she climbed the stair,
And saw Jemima there,
She took and she did whip her most emphatic.

Source: Magic Mother Goose Melodies (1879)

Version 3

There was a little durl,
And she had a little curl,
That hung in the middle of her forehead,
When she was dood,
She was very dood indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

Source: Roosevelt, The Home Life of Henry W. Longfellow (1882)

Historical Background

The authorship of “There was a Little Girl” is still in question. The most attributed author is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the famous American educator and poet. It is said that the rhyme is about his daughter, Edith. However, the theory is debated, mainly because the word usage in the rhyme is inconsistent with Longfellow’s writing style.

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