Humpty Dumpty

August 3, 2006 at 11:59 am Leave a comment

Illustration of Humpty Dumpty from Through the Looking Glass, by John Tenniel, 1871.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the kind’s horses and
All the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

There seem to be plenty of theories about the origin and meaning of this famous nursery rhyme.  Many simply put it forth as an old English riddle verse, the answer to which was “an egg.”  However, the earliest known illustration depicting Humpty Dumpty as an egg was by John Tenniel in 1871 for Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass (see illustration above).  Other theories to its original meaning are that it referred to the defeat of King Richard III of England at the Battle of Bosworth in the summer of 1485; to an enormous canon (colloquially called Humpty Dumpty) that fell from the city wall during the English Civil War; or to the downfall of Cardinal Wosley in the early 1500s.

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