Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater

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"Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater"
Roud #13497
Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater 1 - WW Denslow - Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg
William Wallace Denslow's illustrations for Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, from a 1901 edition of Mother Goose
Written USA
Published c. 1825
Form Nursery rhyme
Writer Traditional
Language English

"Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater" is an English language nursery rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 13497.


One of Peter's wives, according to Denslow

Common modern versions include:

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn't keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.
Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had another and didn't love her;
Peter learned to read and spell,
And then he loved her very well.[1]


The rhyme is not present in any of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century collections published in Britain. The first surviving version of the rhyme was published in Mother Goose's Quarto: or Melodies Complete, in Boston, Massachusetts around 1825.[1] However, a verse collected from Aberdeen, Scotland and published in 1868 had the words:

Peter, my neeper,
Had a wife,
And he couidna' keep her,
He pat her i' the wa',
And lat a' the mice eat her.

As a result, it is possible that the verse was an older one adapted to include pumpkins in America.[1] This verse is also considered to be an older version of the rhyme Eeper Weeper.[2]


  1. ^ a b c I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 333–4.
  2. ^ I. Opie and P. Opie, Children's games with things: marbles, fivestones, throwing and catching, gambling, hopscotch, chucking and pitching, ball-bouncing, skipping, tops and tipcat (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 180.