Suffer Little Children
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|"Suffer Little Children"|
|Song by The Smiths from the album The Smiths|
|Released||20 February 1984|
|Writer(s)||Morrissey, Johnny Marr|
|Producer(s)||John Porter, The Smiths|
|The Smiths track listing|
"Suffer Little Children" is a song by the English rock band The Smiths, that was included on their eponymous debut album in 1984. The song is about the Moors murders that took place on Saddleworth Moor, which overlooks Manchester, between 1963 and 1965. At the time of their murders many of the victims were only a few years older than Smiths' frontman Morrissey (b. 1959), who wrote the lyrics of the song after reading a book about the murders, Beyond Belief: A Chronicle of Murder and its Detection by Emlyn Williams. It was one of the first songs that Morrissey and Johnny Marr wrote together.
After the song was re-released as the B-side of the single, "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now", the Manchester Evening News reported that relatives of the Moors murder victims had taken exception to the lyrics, in which three of the victims are mentioned by name. Some newspapers also claimed that the single's sleeve photo of pools winner Viv Nicholson was intended to resemble Myra Hindley.
Subsequently the high street chains Boots and Woolworths withdrew both the album and single from sale. However, Morrissey later established a friendship with Ann West, the mother of Moors victim Lesley Ann Downey, after she accepted that the band's intentions were honourable.
Although five children were murdered in the Moors case, only three are named in the song: John Kilbride ("oh John you'll never be a man"), Lesley Ann Downey ("Lesley Ann with your pretty white beads"), and Edward Evans ("Edward, see those alluring lights"). The murders of Keith Bennett and Pauline Reade were not attributed to Myra Hindley and Ian Brady until 1985, after "Suffer Little Children" had already been released.
Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
The song has been covered by several artists, including Hole throughout their 2010 tour.