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1001 Stories Collection

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty
Added on 27th August 2020

Oral tradition Traditional nursery rhyme

The well-known nursery rhyme where Humpty takes a tumble.

Story

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Why we chose it

Humpty Dumpty is one of the best known nursery rhymes and was one of those chosen to feature in the nursery rhyme room in our Time for Bed exhibition. Humpty can still be seen on Helen Cooper’s mural in Small Worlds.

Where it came from

There is quite a debate about the origins of this rhyme. Some say that it was a children’s riddle, with the answer being an egg.

The most popular theory to explain the meaning of the rhyme is that Humpty Dumpty was actually the name of a cannon used to defend the city of Colchester from the Roundheads. In 1648, the Civil War was being fought across England. The city walls were breeched and Humpty Dumpty “had a great fall!” Sadly there is no evidence for this theory.

Where it went next

In Alice Through the Looking Glass (1871), chapter 6 is entitled Humpty Dumpty and it is where Alice meets him, sitting on a wall. In this story Humpty Dumpty is described and illustrated as an egg with human features. Humpty Dumpty has been pictured as an egg ever since.

Associated stories

DC Comics created a villain called Humpty Dumpty in the 2003 series Arkham Asylum.

Humpty Dumpty is the villain in the Dreamworks animated film Puss In Boots (2011)

Added on 27th August 2020

Oral tradition Traditional nursery rhyme