Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book
Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song-Book is the first anthology of English-language nursery rhymes, published in London in 1744. It contains the oldest printed texts of many well-known and popular rhymes, as well as several that eventually dropped out of the canon of rhymes for children. In 2013 a facsimile edition with an introduction by Andrea Immel and Brian Alderson was published by the Cotsen Occasional Press.
With the full title: Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book Voll. [sic] II, this was a sequel to the now lost Tommy Thumb's Song Book, published in London by Mary Cooper in 1744. For many years, it was thought that there was only a single copy in existence, now in the British Library, but in 2001 another copy appeared and was sold for £45,000. An earlier collection, Songs for the Nursery, or Mother Goose's Melodies, was supposedly published in Boston in 1719, but the location has been disputed, and no record of any such work exists. Henry Carey's 1725 satire on Ambrose Philips, Namby Pamby, quotes or alludes to some half-dozen or so nursery rhymes. As a result, this is the oldest printed collection of English nursery rhymes that is available. The rhymes and illustrations were printed from copper plates, the text being stamped with punches into the lates, a technique borrowed from map and music printing. It is 3x13⁄4 inches and it is printed in alternate openings in red and black ink.
The book contains forty nursery rhymes, many of which are still popular, including;
- Baa Baa Black Sheep
- Girls and Boys Come Out To Play
- Hickory Dickory Dock
- Ladybird Ladybird
- Little Robin Redbreast
- Little Tommy Tucker
- London Bridge is Falling Down
- Mary Mary Quite Contrary
- Oranges and Lemons
- Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross
- Sing a Song of Sixpence
- There Was an Old Woman Who Lived Under a Hill
- Who Killed Cock Robin?
There are also a number of less familiar rhymes, some of which were probably unsuitable for later sensibilities, including:
- Piss a Bed,
- Piss a Bed,
- Barley Butt,
- Your Bum is so heavy,
- You can't get up.
Some nursery rhymes turn up in disguise:
- The Moon shines Bright,
- The Stars give a light,
- And you may kiss
- A pretty girl
- At ten a clock at night.
This is an earlier version of:
- When I was a little boy
- My mammy kept me in,
- Now I am a great boy,
- I'm fit to serve the king.
- I can handle a musket,
- And I can smoke a pipe.
- And I can kiss a pretty girl
- At twelve o'clock at night.
- Wolf, Shelby; Coats, Karen; Enciso, Patricia A.; Jenkins, Christine (2010). Handbook of Research on Children's and Young Adult Literature. Routledge. p. 188. ISBN 9780203843543.
- British Library, http://entrypoint.bl.uk/Results.aspx?query=tommy+thumb%27s+pretty+song+book&Web=True&OG=True&ILS=True&BLD=True&imageField.x=50&imageField.y=13, retrieved 14 November 2009.
- "News in Brief", 13 December 2001, Telegraph.co.uk, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1365141/News-in-brief.html, retrieved 14 November 09.
- "MOTHER GOOSE.; Longevity of the Boston Myth – The Facts of History in this Matter", New York Times, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D00E1DD1730E132A25757C0A9649C94689ED7CF, retrieved 14 November 2009.
- H. Carpenter and M. Prichard, The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature (Oxford University Press, 1984), pp. 533–4.
- William S. Baring-Gould and Ceil Baring-Gould, The Annotated Mother Goose, pp. 24–43.