Nursery Rhymes are part of a great oral tradition of story-telling. They have been passed down many generations and have entertained millions of children across the world.
As our name suggests, we are featuring rhymes written in English - there are likely to be hundreds more rhymes spoken across the rest of the world, too.
Nursery rhymes exist for a variety of reasons; they can be educational, with each rhyme encouraging counting, recognition of animals and everyday objects; they can be historical in context, for example mentioning kings and queens. Some have content which may be frowned upon if included in contemporary children's entertainment - the violence of Jack breaking his crown in Jack And Jill, for example, or the Old Women Who Lived In A Shoe who starved and beat her children through frustration.
As nursery rhymes are traditionally oral in origin, different theories and myths as to their origin have emerged. It is said that Ring A Ring O Roses refers to the Black Death which infected swathes of Europe in the middle ages. There is no direct proof of this, however; the rhyme does not directly mention symptoms of the plague, and the rhyme is not recorded as having existed as early as the plague. Of course, the oral nature of nursery rhymes may mean it passed down generations before becoming popular enough to warrent publication.
We have archived a variety of popular rhymes on this website. Regional varities may mean that you know some of the rhymes in a different form - indeed, sometimes we have had to be selective as to which versions to include! By no means would we claim this list is exhaustive; the very nature of nursery rhymes means that there are rhymes being told to children which have never been published or even spread beyond the family of origin.