Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: the Reason Behind the Rhyme

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9781862077652: Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: the Reason Behind the Rhyme

Was Little Jack Horner a squatter? "Baa Baa Black Sheep" a bleat about taxation? What did Jack and Jill really do on that hill? Chris Roberts reveals the seamy and quirky stories behind our favorite nursery rhymes.

Nursery rhymes are rarely as innocent as they seem—there is a wealth of concealed meaning in our familiar childhood verse. More than a century after Queen Victoria decided that children were better off without the full story, London librarian Chris Roberts brings the truth to light. He traces the origins of the subtle phrases and antiquated references, revealing religious hatred, political subversion, and sexual innuendo.

Roberts reveals that when Jack, nimble and quick, jumped over a candlestick, he was reenacting a popular sport that tested whether a person was lean and healthy. Humpty Dumpty was actually a cannon mounted on the walls of a church in Colchester, blown up during the English Civil War. Few know that the cockles in "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" actually refer to cuckolds in the promiscuous court of Mary Queen of Scots. Or that "Rub-a-dub-dub, three maids in a tub" was inspired by a fairground peepshow.

A fascinating history lesson that makes astonishing connections to contemporary popular culture, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown is for Anglophiles, parents, history buffs, and anyone who has ever wondered about the origins of rhymes. The book features a glossary of slang and historical terms, and spooky silhouettes of nursery-rhyme characters to accompany the rhymes. Mother Goose will never look the same again.

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From the Back Cover:

"An intriguing & informative historical trip through those odd little songs I sang as an odd little child. A must-have for anyone who has ever been younger than they are now."
--Angus Oblong, creator of "The Oblongs" animated series & author of Creepy Susie: And 13 Other Tragic Tales for Troubled Children

"A merry tour of the origins of favorite nursery rhymes--including wars, land grabs, religious persecution, red-light sex and worthless rulers. Chris Roberts shows that, for understanding our darker nature, Machiavelli's got nuthin' on Mother Goose."
--James Finn Garner, author of Politically Correct Bedtime Stories

About the Author:

Chris Roberts is a librarian in South London and the proprietor of F and M Walking Tours in London. He incorporates these stories into his tours, which became the inspiration for the book. Heavy Words Lightly Thrown began as a self- published project in the UK and has already begun to receive widespread publicity, including coverage in USA Today. Roberts lived in New York City for several years after earning a degree in history at Swansea University. He lived in Berlin for a while before settling in London.

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Chris Roberts
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ISBN 10: 1862077657 ISBN 13: 9781862077652
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Descripción Granta Books, 2004. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Next day dispatch from the UK (Mon-Fri). Please contact us with any queries. Nº de ref. de la librería mon0000394992

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Chris Roberts
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Descripción Granta Books, 2004. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Next day dispatch. International delivery available. 1000's of satisfied customers! Please contact us with any enquiries. Nº de ref. de la librería mon0000193857

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Roberts Chris
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Roberts Chris
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