Mother Goose

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Missing image
Puss-in-Boots-1695.jpg
A page from a late 17th century handwritten and illustrated version of Charles Perrault's Contes de ma mre l'Oye (Mother Goose Tales) depicting Puss in Boots.

In literature, Mother Goose (French: Ma Mre l'Oye; German: Mutter Gans) is the archtypical countrywoman, the teller of fairy tales and nursery rhymes. No specific writer has ever been identified with the name, the first known mention of which appears in an aside in a versified chronicle of weekly happenings, that appeared regularly for several years, Jean Loret's La Muse Historique (in 1660): comme un conte de la Mere Oye ("Like a Mother Goose story").

The Contes de ma mre l'Oye (Mother Goose Tales), edited in 1697 by French author Charles Perrault, is made of eight tales:

In 1765, John Newbury's Mother Goose's Melody, switches the focus from fairy tales to nursery rhymes, and in English this is still the prime connotation for Mother Goose.

French composer Maurice Ravel wrote an opus named Ma Mre l'Oye, a suite for the piano, which was then orchestrated and became a ballet.

The name is now used as a generic title for collections of nursery rhymes, especially ones of a previous age. It is also the name of a pantomime featuring nursery rhyme characters.

Many of Perrault's Mother Goose tales were adapted for the theater or movies, especially by the Walt Disney Studios or by Jim Henson.

Many tourists to Boston, Massachusetts have been told that the original Mother Goose was named Elizabeth Goose and is interred at the Granary Burying Ground. This belief is considered wholly erroneous by scholars, as the individual's life postdates prior use of the term elsewhere and no evidence exists that she collected any tales into a book.

A male companion to Mother Goose, Father Goose was a recurring character in the works of L. Frank Baum.

Recently some Neopagans have claimed that Mother Goose was originally a witch or ancient goddess, but there is no evidence to support this idea.

The world authority on the Mother Goose tradition is Iona Opie.

See also: List of children's songs, list of children's stories

External links


"Mother Goose" is also the nickname of a character of the movie Mad Max (George Miller, 1979), Jim Goose.


"Mother Goose" is also the title of a song on the album Aqualung from the progressive rock band Jethro Tull.

fr:Les Contes de ma mre l'Oie ja:マザー・グース

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