Tales of the Mother Goose and its origins

Posted on 23 May 2009

There are innumerable tales that one can find in any kind of Mother Goose collection. There are lots many collections today and the origin of such tales are soaked in history, belonging to a by gone era where children were told folk stories. It's widely accepted that the 1st publication containing a nursery rhyme collection was made available in 1744, while the 1st confirmed Nursery Rhymes collection using the term "Mother Goose" dates back to 1780. There are also traces that a collection of stories named "Mother Goose's Tales" was printed and published in 1729! The term "Mother Goose" became favouable amongst publishers, printers and the population in general. Soon the illustrations that were a part of 'Mother Goose' publication depicted her as an old crone, or a witch. There have the numerous claims that have said to own the term 'Mother Goose', we will go on to discuss.

The French Are Credited To Have Founded The Term Mother Goose

If at all one were to look for a real mother goose, then she can be traced back the 8th Century when a noblewoman named Bertrada II of Laon who, in the year 740, wed Pepin the Short, King of the Franks, and then in 2 years time gave birth to their son Charles, named Charlemagne, also remembered as de facto founder & establisher of the Holy Roman Empire. Bertrada, played a significant role as a patroness of children and imparted upon her all conquering son his only education, she was even referred to as Berte aux grand pied, or Bertha Goosefoot.

This is the little of what is known of Bertrada's role and by the turn of the seventeenth Century mere l'oye referred to as a mythical Mother Goose by French peasants and nobility similar to that of a fairy birdmother who recited charming tales to children. A few of such stories were made available through print as early as 1637 in Giambattista Basile's Italian stories collection entitled The Pentamerone; There is another collection belonging to one more Italian named Giovanni Francesco Straparola, to whose credit there are seventy-three folktales collected in Facetious Nights (1550-1554). These tales from Giovanni Francesco Straparola served as a source for plays by both Moliere and Shakespeare.

In the year 1697 a Frenchmen named Charles Peerault published a masterpiece containing 8 famous folk tales which included the likes of "Sleeping Beauty", "Cinderella" & "Little Red Riding Hood". The book was titled "Histories and Tales of Long Ago, with Morals". The opening page or the title page had the words "Contes de ma mere l'Oye" meaning "Tales of Mother Goose" engraved but none of the rhymes could be termed having any relevance with Mother Goose, a large section of which have originated from England. The illustration on the title page showed an old aged witch-like lady spinning & telling stories.

Mother Goose Stories In England

In 1729 Perrault's tales originally published in French were translated into English by Robert Samber and then published as well. "Mother Goose's Tales" these were the words used to describe the book. In 1744, John Newbery who happened to a be a publisher as well as a bookseller published his 1st children's book called "The Little Pretty Pocket Book" and he dedicated this book to Guardians, Parents & Nurses residing in Great Britain and Ireland. The book turned out to be an instant hit and opened a new market where children's books and rhymes became an important part of the culture. In the year Newbery released his most successful publication titled "Little Goody Two Shoes". Upon his death in 1780, Thomas Carnan, the step of John Newbery became the publication's new owner of the Newbery Publishing House. Thomas Carnan then began using the term "Mother Goose's Melody - or Sonnets for the Cradle" at London Stationer's Hall.

Mother Goose Stories In America

In 1787, Isaiah Thomas published the 1st American edition of Mother Goose's Melody: or Sonnets for the Cradle that had favorites such as Jack & Jill and also Little Tommy Tucker, additionally there were 50 more such rhymes. With the passage of time editors have widened the Thomas' modest collection, but in reality old tales and rhymes that have originated from European antiquity continue to be amongst collections of as many as seven hundred rhymes, stories, and riddles.

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