Old woman who lived in a shoe

Joseph Martin Kronheim: Old woman in a shoe

 

The little old woman who lived in a shoe (all variations of this title allowed) is well known nursery rhyme with many written versions.

They all start with next lines:

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do;

Old woman in a shoe

Old woman who lived in a shoe by Joseph Martin Kronheim

The first was printed in 1794. It was edited by Joseph Ritson (1752-1803) who was trained lawyer, professional antiquarian, brilliant observer and bitter critic who didn’t care about public opinion, so we have a ground to believe his version was very accurate with folklore. He wrote next lines:

She gave them some broth without any bread;
She whipp’d all their bums, and sent them to bed.

This is of course very different than most later versions where starvation and violent acts were not appropriate for children’s ears anymore. So most people are familiar with next lines:

She gave them some broth and a big slice of bread,
Kissed them all soundly and sent them to bed.

Much nicer look at the world, huh?

Another twist on this nursery rhyme is the prose version and in next illustrations we’ll check how Joseph Martin Kronheim (1810-1896) portrayed the story about the old lady in the shoe.

It starts with a family with twelve kids and giant who came to their house.

giant attacks

Giant against father motif is known from several versions of Jack and the beanstalk

He destroys a house and kidnapped the father.

When giant leaves the scene, one of his shoes stays and the rest of the family starts living in it. But the boys (all kids are boys) want to rescue their father and the oldest, named Strong-arms leads them to the giant’s castle (this resembles the first printed version of Jack and the beanstalk by Benjamin Tabart). The action part follows.

strong arm and a servant

Strong-arm and giant’s servant

Giant’s servant offers help to Strong-arm and his brothers what also reminds us on several versions of Jack and the Beanstalk where ogre’s wife acts as some sort of conspirator. But Strong-arm still has to defeat the dragon.

killing a dragon

Killing dragons is similar to growing up

In the meantime the mother of the kids (we almost forgot the old lady from the shoe) finds some help on her own.

witch and old lady from the shoe

A witch doesn’t like the giant too

The story slightly strays at this point but the ending with rescued father and defeated giant is near…

killing a giant

Defeating giants is another part of growing up

I hope you enjoyed at this take on popular nursery rhyme, this time in the form of story and with public domain illustrations by Joseph Martin Kronheim.

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