Mary Had a Little Lamb


Mary Had a Little Lamb
   There have been many claimants to the authorship of what has been claimed to be the best-known four lines of verse in the English language, and also a number of pretenders to the honour of being the original Mary. One Mary Hughes, of Worthing, Sussex, even has a tombstone pronouncing her fame, but unfortunately in error (FLS News 19 (June 1994), 13). The facts, as laid out by Iona and Peter Opie, are that the original four-verse poem was written by Mrs Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879), of Boston, in early 1830, and first published in September of that year in the Juvenile Miscellany. The poem's other claim to fame, however, is that it is probably the most parodied of verses in the English tradition. As soon as children get too old and wise to appreciate the real thing, they get devilish delight in debunking it, and as they grow older the parodies get ruder or cleverer, and adults are not above using them in comedy routines and satire. All that is needed is the formula 'Mary had a little . . . ' and the audience understands perfectly what is going on.
   ■ Opie and Opie, 1997: 353-5.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mary Had a Little Lamb — Single par Paul McCartney et les Wings Face A Mary Had a Little Lamb Face B Little Woman Love Sortie 12 mai 1972 Enregistrement …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Mary Had a Little Lamb — [Mary Had a Little Lamb] the title and first line of a traditional ↑nursery rhyme. The first verse is: Mary had a little lamb, Its fleece was white as snow; and everywhere that Mary went The lamb was sure to go …   Useful english dictionary

  • Mary had a Little Lamb — Mary had a Lit|tle Lamb a ↑nursery rhyme (=an old song or poem for young children) . The rhyme begins: Mary had a little lamb,/Its fleece was white as snow;/And everywhere that Mary went/The lamb was sure to go …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Mary Had a Little Lamb — For Paul McCartney s song, see Mary Had a Little Lamb (Paul McCartney song). For the 1961 British comedy film, see Mary Had a Little.... Mary Had a Little Lamb Roud #7622 Ma …   Wikipedia

  • Mary Had a Little Lamb — the title and first line of a traditional nursery rhyme. The first verse is: Mary had a little lamb, Its fleece was white as snow; And everywhere that Mary went The lamb was sure to go. * * * …   Universalium

  • Mary Had a Little Lamb (Paul McCartney song) — Mary Had a Little Lamb Single by Wings B side Little Woman Love Released …   Wikipedia

  • Mary Had a Little... — Mary Had a Little... is a 1961 British comedy film directed by Edward Buzzell and starring Agnès Laurent, Hazel Court and Jack Watling.[1] It takes its title from the nursery rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb, and is sometimes credited as Britain s… …   Wikipedia

  • Mary — fem. proper name, O.E. Maria, Marie, mother of Jesus, from L. Maria, from Gk. Mariam, Maria, from Aramaic Maryam, from Heb. Miryam, sister of Moses (Ex. xv.), of unknown origin, said to mean lit. rebellion. Nursery rhyme Mary had a Little Lamb… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Little Woman Love — Infobox Single Name = Little Woman Love Caption = The United States repackaged design for Little Woman Love Artist = Wings from Album = Wild Life (The Paul McCartney Collection) A side = Mary Had a Little Lamb Released = May 12, 1972 Format = 7… …   Wikipedia

  • Mary, Mary — is the eleventh book by James Patterson featuring the former Washington DC homicide detective and forensic psychiatrist and current FBI agent Alex Cross.Plot OverviewSomebody is killing Hollywood s A list. FBI agent Alex Cross is on holiday with… …   Wikipedia