There Was a Crooked Man

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"There Was a Crooked Man"
Nursery rhyme
Published 1842
Songwriter(s) Unknown

"There Was a Crooked Man" is an English nursery rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 4826.[1]


Original version:

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.


The rhyme was first recorded by James Orchard Halliwell in the 1840s and gained popularity in the early twentieth century.[2] Some say the town of Lavenham is believed to have inspired this rhyme.[3] Others maintain the poem originates from the history of King Charles I of England (1600–1649). The crooked man is reputed to be the Scottish General Sir Alexander Leslie. He signed a covenant securing religious and political freedom for Scotland. The "crooked stile" in the poem was the border between England and Scotland. "They all lived together in a little crooked house" refers to the fact that the English and Scots had at last come to an agreement, despite continuing great animosity between the two peoples, who nonetheless had to live with each other due to their common border.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

  • An early Batman story involved Batman and Robin solving a mystery whose clues were based on the rhyme.
  • The Crooked Man, named Count Warptwist, is the antagonist of The Wacky World of Mother Goose.
  • The Crooked Man is the main antagonist of the Fables video-game The Wolf Among Us.
  • The rhyme was featured in the 2016 horror film The Conjuring 2.
  • In the Friends episode "The One With The Thumb," Phoebe misquotes the rhyme to describe Monica's new love interest Alan.
  • The Crooked Man is the main antagonist in the RPG game The Crooked Man.[5]
  • The 2016 Syfy channel original movie The Crooked Man, features the popular rhyme/song, and the creature himself.[6]
  • The Crooked Man appears as the villain in the comic three-part mini series "Hellboy: The Crooked Man and Others"
  • The Crooked Man is the villain of the movie "The Crooked Man" (2017)


  1. ^ "Roud Folksong Index S299349 There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile". Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. English Folk Dance and Song Society. Retrieved May 20, 2016. 
  2. ^ I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), p. 289.
  3. ^ Taylor, Bob (12 September 2011). "Lavenham, England: Part one of four great little places". Washington Times. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  4. ^ Alchin, Linda (2013). "There was a Crooked Man". The Secret History of Nursery Rhymes (2nd ed.). Surrey, UK: Neilsen. 
  5. ^ "The Crooked Man". vgperson. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 
  6. ^ "The Crooked Man: 5 Things to Know". 1 October 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016.