There Was a Crooked Man
|"There Was a Crooked Man"|
- 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. One legend suggests that this nursery rhyme originated in the once prosperous wool merchant’s village of Lavenham, about 70 miles northeast of London, having been inspired by its multicolored half-timbered houses leaning at irregular angles as if they are supporting each other. Other sources state that the poem originates from British history, specifically the period of the English Stuart King Charles I of England (1600–1649). The crooked man is reputed to be the Scottish General Sir Alexander Leslie, who 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.
In popular culture
- (1941) "—And He Built a Crooked House—" is a science fiction short story by Robert A. Heinlein titled after the rhyme.
- (1948) Walk a Crooked Mile is a noir crime film titled after the rhyme.
- (1953) An early Batman story involved Batman and Robin solving a mystery whose clues were based on the rhyme.
- (1955) A short story, "The Crooked Man", written by science fiction author Charles Beaumont, was printed in Playboy. The story highlighted straight men being persecuted in a world where homosexuality was the norm.
- (1967) The Crooked Man, named Count Walktwist, is the antagonist of The Wacky World of Mother Goose.
- (1970) "There Was a Crooked Man..." is a western starring Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
- (1994) In the Friends episode "The One With The Thumb", Phoebe misquotes the rhyme to describe Monica's new love.
- (2006) The Crooked Man is the antagonist in John Connolly's novel The Book of Lost Things. The rhyme is repeated at times throughout the book.
- (2011) The Crooked Man appears as the villain in the comic three-part mini series Hellboy: The Crooked Man and Others.
- (2013) The monster in the Doctor Who episode "Hide" is known as the Crooked Man.
- (2013) The Crooked Man is the main antagonist of the Fables-based Telltale Games video game The Wolf Among Us.
- (2016) The rhyme was featured in the horror film The Conjuring 2, where The Crooked Man appeared as one of the forms of the main antagonist.
- (2016) The Syfy original movie The Crooked Man, features the rhyme, and the creature himself.
- (2016) V. M. Varga recites the rhyme in the third season of the television series Fargo.
- (TBD) A spin-off to The Conjuring 2 features The Crooked Man as the titular antagonist.
- Iain Lauchlan performs this song on Fun Song Factory: Nursery Rhyme Land
- "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.
- I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), p. 289.
- 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.
- Alchin, Linda (2013). "There was a Crooked Man". The Secret History of Nursery Rhymes (2nd ed.). Surrey, UK: Neilsen.
- "The Crooked Man: 5 Things to Know". Syfy.com. 1 October 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
- "Conjurer 2 Spinoff 'The Crooked Man' in the Works". HollywoodReporter.com. 14 June 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
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