Dark Origins – Old Mother Hubbard

I am over at Writing to be Read with the November Dark Origins post. This month the focus is Old Mother Hubbard. Wishing all my USA friends a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. Thanks for hosting, Kaye Lynne Booth.

Writing to be Read

Old Mother Hubbard is a popular nursery rhyme but the words are not very child friendly. It is rather long so I am only sharing the first three verses here:

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone:
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

She went to the baker’s
To buy him some bread;
When she came back
The dog was dead!

She went to the undertaker’s
To buy him a coffin;
When she came back
The dog was laughing.

As with most nursery rhymes, it is not possible to peg down its exact origins but I am going to share with you two quite different proposed origins, one being much darker than the other.

Old Mother Hubbard is purported to refer to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and his failure to obtain an annulment from the…

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10 thoughts on “Dark Origins – Old Mother Hubbard

  1. I like both of those possible origins, but I like the first one best. Seems so fitting from the history. Now as for me and my friends being rather naughty boys when I was young, we used to make up dirty versions of this nursery rhyme for other dirty versions we had heard. If I were a young boy today, the authorities would probably have me on drugs for all the bad behavior acronyms that didn’t exist back when I was a naughty boy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Annette, I did hear these nursery rhymes as a kid and I had no idea what they meant. I loved them and this one was a favourite. That is probably why we don’t change them and still teach them to our kids, because they don’t understand the hidden or underlying meanings.

      Liked by 1 person

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