The Real Mother Goose

Turns out to be in print. An interesting document.

Visiting a home with a three-year-old, I have discovered that I had a deprived childhood. At least, I don’t recall (and I think I would recall) seeing a genuine Mother Goose book as opposed to the cleaned-up modern versions. It turns out that Checkerboard Press published such a document in 1916, under the title The Real Mother Goose, which had its ninety-seventh printing in 1992 and is available on line through Project Gutenberg.

The variety is astounding, including some genuine riddles (i.e., rhymes that name something which the hearer is then supposed to guess).

It also has some old political humor; I have no idea what the three-year-olds make of it. For example, this little ditty must be from the late 17th Century.


What is the rhyme for porringer?

The king he had a daughter fair,

And gave the Prince of Orange ‘er.

Footnote No, the history in the verse isn’t quite right. It wasn’t James II who gave his daughter Mary to William of Orange; that decision was made by his James’s brother Charles. And of course James wasn’t king when that happened.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: