"Baa, Baa, Black Sheep," "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Hickory Dickory Dock" are all good nursery rhymes. Some other popular nursery rhymes include "Humpty Dumpty," "Jack and Jill" and "Little Miss Muffet."Continue Reading
Dating back to as early as 1731, "Baa, Baa Black Sheep" first appeared in print in 1744 in "Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book," the oldest surviving collection of English-language nursery rhymes. Like all nursery rhymes, there have been many theories as to the meaning behind "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep." Author Katherine Elwes Thomas suggests in her book, "The Real Personages of Mother Goose," that the rhyme referred to resentment at the heavy taxation on wool in the 1930s. Others connect it to the slave trade, particularly in the southern United States.
First published in 1830, "Mary Had a Little Lamb" is an original poem written by Sarah Josepha Hale and inspired by real events. Mary was based on Mary Sawyer, a young girl who took her pet lamb to school with her one day. There are two theories as to the origin of the poem. One is that Sarah Josepha Hale only wrote the last 12 lines, and John Roulstone, a man who happened to be visiting the school the day Mary brought in her lamb, wrote the first four. The second is that Roulstone had no part in it, and Hale composed the poem on her own.Learn more about Folklore