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Mother Goose: From Nursery to Literatureil mg/goose/color
What Made Me Write this Book?

There's something about a writers' mind that grasps, sometimes surprisingly, at a mere wisp of information, and makes it suddenly spring into an idea for a full-fledged book. When I came across a short reference to "Ring-a-Round a Rosie" supposedly being about the plague, that "a-ha" lighted in my mind with skepticism, and before I knew it I was on the way to deep researching into the whole aspect of the Mother Goose persona - and myths - and realities.

I discovered Rosie is not about the plague (click below to link to the excerpt from the book).

I learned that there was never really one known person who wrote the Mother Goose rhymes (click below to link to a summarized version of the truth).

I learned a host of other information about unsubstantiated myths about many of the rhymes, as well as real historical connections. After I had enough information to know there was a book in it, I pitched the idea to McFarland Publishers who had published two previous books. They liked the idea and I was off into the land of Mother Goosery.

Discovering some real authors (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote "There was a little girl, who had a little curl . . . ") and some wonderful parodies by or in the style of famous poets, added another dimension. 

Chapter 4 contains the history, comments, and complete text of the first important book of nursery rhymes designated as Mother Goose, Mother Goose's Melody, c. 1765, published by John Newbery, England. The editor of that little book is widely believed to have been Oliver Goldsmith, who added pithy comments to many of the rhymes. That "nursery" book ended with some of Shakespeare's works, billed as "lullabies" though most were love poems: a curious addition.. It took several pages of historical fact, conjecture, etc. to set this book in it's historical context. It seemed important to me to include the entire text as a chapter in this contemporary study. 

I found that Shakespeare had evoked phrases from Mother Goose rhymes, so included a short chapter on those. Robert Burns got a chapter, too, as he made frequent use of that nursery literature in his poems. A final chapter, "Cooking the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg:  Uses and Abuses of Mother Goose Rhymes" shows some clever uses, and some heavy-handed and stupid travesties. It's the stuff that determined researchers live on. 

Two college students once complained to me about the 16 (wow?) resources that comprised research for a master's thesis: the bibliography for my book lists 63 sources - not including the chronological bibliography of important editions of Mother Goose books. 

So, that's how a book is born when this writer is the birth-mother. (Publishing history of the book is below.) Of course, being identified with Mother Goose has meant acquiring mugs, jewelry, and other Mother Goose errata. Love it.

Some people ask if Mother Goose is dead. The answer to that:  she may never have been real, but she's certainly not dead. Just look at all the wonderfully illustrated editions of the rhymes that keep coming out to amuse and delight our children. 

Excerpt:  "Just Who Was Mother Goose"

Excerpt:  "Ring-a-Round a Rosie"

Information: Mother Goose Day (May 1);  The Mother Goose Society
& The Mother Goose Web Site

Mother Goose:from Nursery to Literature was first published by McFarland Publishers in 1987. 
In 2000, they let it go out of print, but it was immediately picked up in 2001 by the Authors Guild Back-in-Print Books, published through iUniverse. 
Paperback; available on the internet at all major online book dealers.

A limited number of first editions are available:
hardcover, 6" x 9", 314 pp., acid-free-paper, autographed.
inquire about book

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