Mother Goose


Mother Goose
the fictitious author of a collection of nursery rhymes first published in London (about 1760) under the title of Mother Goose's Melody.

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Fictitious old woman, reputedly the source of the body of traditional children's songs and verses known as nursery rhymes.

Often pictured as a beak-nosed, sharp-chinned old woman riding on the back of a flying gander, she was first associated with nursery rhymes in Mother Goose's Melody (1781), published by the successors of John Newbery. The name apparently derived from the title of Charles Perrault's collection of fairy tales Ma Mère l'oye (1697; "My Mother Goose"). The persistent rumour that Mother Goose was an actual Boston woman is false.

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▪ fictional character
      fictitious old woman, reputedly the source of the body of traditional children's songs and verses known as nursery rhymes. She is often pictured as a beak-nosed, sharp-chinned elderly woman riding on the back of a flying gander. “Mother Goose” was first associated with nursery rhymes in an early collection of “the most celebrated Songs and Lullabies of old British nurses,” Mother Goose's Melody; or Sonnets for the Cradle (1781), published by the successors of one of the first publishers of children's books, John Newbery. The oldest extant copy dates from 1791, but it is thought that an edition appeared, or was planned, as early as 1765, and it is likely that it was edited by Oliver Goldsmith, who may also have composed some of the verses. The Newbery firm seems to have derived the name “Mother Goose” from the title of Charles Perrault's fairy tales, Contes de ma mère l'oye (1697; “Tales of Mother Goose”), a French folk expression roughly equivalent to “old wives' tales.”

      The persistent legend that Mother Goose was an actual Boston woman, Elizabeth Goose (Vergoose, or Vertigoose), whose grave in Boston's Old Granary Burying Ground is still a tourist attraction, is false. No evidence of the book of rhymes she supposedly wrote in 1719 has ever been found. The first U.S. edition of Mother Goose rhymes was a reprint of the Newbery edition published by Isaiah Thomas in 1785.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Mother Goose — probably a translation of mid 17c. Fr. contes de ma mère l oye, which meant fairy tales. The phrase appeared on the frontispiece of Charles Perrault s 1697 collection of eight fairy tales ( Contes du Temps Passé ), which was translated in English …   Etymology dictionary

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  • Mother Goose — n. 1. the imaginary narrator of a collection of tales ( c. 1697) by Charles Perrault 2. the imaginary creator of a collection of nursery rhymes first published (1765?) in London …   English World dictionary

  • Mother Goose — This article is about the fairy tale character. For other uses, see Mother Goose (disambiguation). A page from a late 17th century handwritten and illustrated version of Charles Perrault s Contes de ma mère l Oye, depicting Puss in Boots The… …   Wikipedia

  • Mother Goose — Frontispiz von Contes de ma mère l Oye von Charles Perrault (1697) Mother Goose (französisch Ma Mère l Oye, deutsch Mutter Gans) ist eine literarische Figur aus Kinderreimen und Märchen, die beson …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mother Goose — noun the imaginary author of a collection of nursery rhymes • Instance Hypernyms: ↑fictional character, ↑fictitious character, ↑character * * * Mother Goose [Mother Goose] an old woman who is supposed to have written ↑nursery rhymes. She is shown …   Useful english dictionary

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  • Mother Goose — Les Contes de ma mère l Oye Ma mère l Oye en frontispice du recueil, illustration de Gustave Doré de 1867 Les Contes de ma mère l Oye est un recueil de huit contes de fées de Charles Perrault paru en 1697, sous le titre Histoires ou contes du… …   Wikipédia en Français


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