Prepare to have your childhood perceptions shattered, especially if you’ve ever lovingly coloured a picture of Humpty Dumpty as a cute little egg.
And for those who hold cherished books of illustrated nursery rhymes, consider this your fair warning – a nursery rhyme mystery is about to be unveiled.
We all know and love Humpty Dumpty, one of the most popular nursery rhymes of all time.
But did you know that he’s not actually an egg? Shocking, right?
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For as long as we can remember, Humpty has been depicted as a lovable egg character in countless illustrations, dating back to Lewis Carroll’s whimsical appearance of Humpty in his ‘Alice in Wonderland’ sequel.
However, when you examine the lyrics of the rhyme closely, there’s no mention of Humpty Dumpty being an egg.
Let’s refresh our memories with the classic lines:
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.
So, how did Humpty come to be known as an egg?
An intriguing question, and one that author Holly Bourne recently posed on Twitter.
“Who decided Humpty Dumpty was an egg? It’s not in the lyrics, and deciding he’s a giant egg is quite a random leap for someone to make, and everyone else being like, ‘Yeha, a giant egg on a wall. Of course’,'” she mused.
The Egg character is attributed to Lewis Carroll. In “Through the Looking Glass”, he portrays Humpty Dumpty as an egg. pic.twitter.com/3WSR54MiKQ
— 🔥RavinRedhead🔥 (@susanlorr) July 20, 2023
And it seems Holly is not alone in her ponderings.
Twitter was abuzz with others expressing similar wonder.
“This has been haunting me for years,” read one reply.
“This has bugged me for a long time!!” echoed another.
Curiosity was piqued, and several commenters who had never considered this before expressed their surprise.
“This is genuinely the first time I’ve realised he’s not explicitly an egg,” one user confessed.
Another chimed in: “Oh my goodness, how did I not realise this?”
Thankfully, the rhyme detectives were on the case!
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Jane Etheridge, Vice Chair of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, shared her expertise, suggesting that Humpty’s egg portrayal may have roots in Roundhead propaganda about a Royalist cannon.
Interestingly, the first appearance of an egg-shaped Humpty was in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.
But the intrigue doesn’t end there.
Who decided Humpty Dumpty was an egg? Its not in the lyrics, and deciding he’s a giant egg is quite a random leap for someone to make, and everyone else being like, “yeah, a giant egg on a wall. Of course “
— Holly Bourne (@holly_bourneYA) January 9, 2023
Other theories propose that Humpty Dumpty’s tale is a metaphor for King Richard III and his defeat at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.
Fascinating stuff, right?
So, there you have it. The truth behind Humpty Dumpty’s identity.
He’s not just an egg, but possibly a symbol of something darker and more historical.