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This title in other editions

Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme

by

Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Was Little Jack Horner a squatter? "Baa Baa Black Sheep" a bleat about taxation? What did Jack and Jill really do on that hill? Chris Roberts reveals the seamy and quirky stories behind our favorite nursery rhymes.

Nursery rhymes are rarely as innocent as they seem — there is a wealth of concealed meaning in our familiar childhood verse. More than a century after Queen Victoria decided that children were better off without the full story, London librarian Chris Roberts brings the truth to light. He traces the origins of the subtle phrases and antiquated references, revealing religious hatred, political subversion, and sexual innuendo.

Roberts reveals that when Jack, nimble and quick, jumped over a candlestick, he was reenacting a popular sport that tested whether a person was lean and healthy. Humpty Dumpty was actually a cannon mounted on the walls of a church in Colchester, blown up during the English Civil War. Few know that the cockles in "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" actually refer to cuckolds in the promiscuous court of Mary Queen of Scots. Or that "Rub-a-dub-dub, three maids in a tub" was inspired by a fairground peepshow.

A fascinating history lesson that makes astonishing connections to contemporary popular culture, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown is for Anglophiles, parents, history buffs, and anyone who has ever wondered about the origins of rhymes. The book features a glossary of slang and historical terms, and spooky silhouettes of nursery-rhyme characters to accompany the rhymes. Mother Goose will never look the same again.

Review:

"A librarian by night and a London tour guide by day, Roberts deploys an informal style of scholarship to dazzling effect, transforming a catalogue of familiar nursery rhymes into a treasure trove of tantalizingly slippery archaisms, hidden etymological layers, arcane associations and buried meanings. Having explained how the Victorians sanitized nursery rhymes' traditionally earthy content, Roberts attends to each ditty separately, printing obscure variants and tracing historical references, from British constitutional history to bygone pagan customs. Unlocking the secret meanings of the past, Roberts also finds plenty of refreshingly straightforward modern-day analogies for the nursery rhymes — the chanted taunts of the average British soccer fan illustrate certain rhymes' original tone and purpose. In a fluidly digressive style, he debunks accepted theories and confidently asserts his own. His reading of 'Hark, Hark, the Dogs Do Bark,' for example, starts out by describing Elizabethan mass vagrancy, proceeds to anatomize 17th-century anti-Dutch sentiment and the etymology of the word 'beggar,' and winds up with a spirited commentary on New Age travelers. Roberts's intimate knowledge of London history is perfectly suited to his discussions of 'London Bridge Is Falling Down' and 'Pop Goes the Weasel.' As any good historian of oral culture ought, Roberts intelligently admits that many rhymes have open-ended meanings subject to multiple interpretations. This is better than history lite — it's history made delightful. (Aug. 18) " Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Heavy Words, Lightly Thrown is obviously a labor of love, performed by a man obsessed with language, history, but intent on making the education of his readers a joyous experience." Milwaukie Journal Sentinel

Review:

"High-spirited and irreverent....Great fun-for adults." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Boisterous and fascinating." Daily Telegraph (UK)

Review:

"Robert's entertainingly mischievous readings of these traditional songs grab symbolic readings from any available sources and stir them in a big pot." Steven Poole, The Guardian (UK)

Review:

"An irreverent romp through the received wisdom of the nursery rhymes with which we all think we are so familiar." Sunday Herald (UK)

Review:

"A merry tour of the origins of favorite nursery rhymes — including wars, land grabs, religious persecution, red-light sex and worthless rulers. Chris Roberts shows that, for understanding our darker nature, Machiavelli's got nuthin' on Mother Goose." James Finn Garner, author of Politically Correct Bedtime Stories

Review:

"An intriguing & informative historical trip through those odd little songs I sang as an odd little child. A must-have for anyone who has ever been younger than they are now." Angus Oblong, author of Creepy Susie: And 13 Other Tragic Tales for Troubled Children

Synopsis:

Originally published by the author's company in the UK in October 2003, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown captured the world's attention after a burst of publicity in March 2004. The first print run sold out and rights were bought by Granta (UK) and by Gotham Books. Chris Roberts, a librarian at East London University and the proprietor of Foot and Mouth Walking Tours in London, delivers a lighthearted romp through British history, revealing the seamy and quirky stories behind our favorite nursery rhymes.

Synopsis:

Revealing the seamy and quirky stories behind our favorite nursery rhymes, London librarian Chris Roberts traces the origins of the subtle phrases and antiquated references, unearthing religious hatred, political subversion, and sexual innuendo.

Synopsis:

Was Little Jack Horner a squatter? aBaa Baa Black Sheepa a bleat about taxation? What did Jack and Jill really do on that hill? Chris Roberts reveals the seamy and quirky stories behind our favorite nursery rhymes.

Nursery rhymes are rarely as innocent as they seemathere is a wealth of concealed meaning in our familiar childhood verse. More than a century after Queen Victoria decided that children were better off without the full story, London librarian Chris Roberts brings the truth to light. He traces the origins of the subtle phrases and antiquated references, revealing religious hatred, political subversion, and sexual innuendo.

Roberts reveals that when Jack, nimble and quick, jumped over a candlestick, he was reenacting a popular sport that tested whether a person was lean and healthy. Humpty Dumpty was actually a cannon mounted on the walls of a church in Colchester, blown up during the English Civil War. Few know that the cockles in aMary, Mary, Quite Contrarya actually refer to cuckolds in the promiscuous court of Mary Queen of Scots. Or that aRub-a-dub-dub, three maids in a tuba was inspired by a fairground peepshow.

A fascinating history lesson that makes astonishing connections to contemporary popular culture, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown is for Anglophiles, parents, history buffs, and anyone who has ever wondered about the origins of rhymes. The book features a glossary of slang and historical terms, and spooky silhouettes of nursery-rhyme characters to accompany the rhymes. Mother Goose will never look the same again.

Praise:

aBoisterous and fascinating.a

--Daily Telegraph

aRobertas entertainingly mischievous readings of these traditionalsongs grab symbolic readings from any available sources and stir them in a big pot.a

--Steven Poole, The Guardian

aRoberts is a lucid and funny writer a his ability to provide a historical overview as he focuses on bygone detail makes fascinating readinga

--Sainsburyas Magazine

aVery meticulous with his research and doesnat try to fool you with waffle or overstatement. Fun and easily digestible wander through history. Though donat be surprised if by the end, much like Jack after head broken his a crowna, you feel like youave lost your innocence.a

--Leeds Guide

aAn irreverent romp through the received wisdom of the nursery rhymes with which we all think we are so familiar.a

--Sunday Herald

aEntertaining exposA(c) of the surprising stories behind well-known nursery rhymes revealing a seething subtext of sexual innuendo, religious hatred and political subversion.a

--Bookseller

About the Author

Chris Roberts is a librarian in South London and the proprietor of F and M Walking Tours in London. He incorporates these stories into his tours, which became the inspiration for the book. Heavy Words Lightly Thrown began as a self-published project in the UK and has already begun to receive widespread publicity, including coverage in USA Today. Roberts lived in New York City for several years after earning a degree in history at Swansea University. He lived in Berlin for a while before settling in London.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781592401307
Subtitle:
The Reason Behind the Rhyme
Author:
Roberts, Chris
Publisher:
Gotham
Subject:
Folklore & Mythology
Subject:
History and criticism
Subject:
Form - Limericks & Verse
Subject:
Nursery rhymes, English.
Subject:
Essays
Copyright:
Edition Number:
2
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20050818
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 8 up to AND UP
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.12x6.30x.90 in. .74 lbs.
Age Level:
from 14 up to AND UP

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Related Subjects


Humanities » Mythology » Folklore and Storytelling
Reference » Words Phrases and Language
Reference » Words on Words

Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Gotham Books - English 9781592401307 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "A librarian by night and a London tour guide by day, Roberts deploys an informal style of scholarship to dazzling effect, transforming a catalogue of familiar nursery rhymes into a treasure trove of tantalizingly slippery archaisms, hidden etymological layers, arcane associations and buried meanings. Having explained how the Victorians sanitized nursery rhymes' traditionally earthy content, Roberts attends to each ditty separately, printing obscure variants and tracing historical references, from British constitutional history to bygone pagan customs. Unlocking the secret meanings of the past, Roberts also finds plenty of refreshingly straightforward modern-day analogies for the nursery rhymes — the chanted taunts of the average British soccer fan illustrate certain rhymes' original tone and purpose. In a fluidly digressive style, he debunks accepted theories and confidently asserts his own. His reading of 'Hark, Hark, the Dogs Do Bark,' for example, starts out by describing Elizabethan mass vagrancy, proceeds to anatomize 17th-century anti-Dutch sentiment and the etymology of the word 'beggar,' and winds up with a spirited commentary on New Age travelers. Roberts's intimate knowledge of London history is perfectly suited to his discussions of 'London Bridge Is Falling Down' and 'Pop Goes the Weasel.' As any good historian of oral culture ought, Roberts intelligently admits that many rhymes have open-ended meanings subject to multiple interpretations. This is better than history lite — it's history made delightful. (Aug. 18) " Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Heavy Words, Lightly Thrown is obviously a labor of love, performed by a man obsessed with language, history, but intent on making the education of his readers a joyous experience."
"Review" by , "High-spirited and irreverent....Great fun-for adults."
"Review" by , "Boisterous and fascinating."
"Review" by , "Robert's entertainingly mischievous readings of these traditional songs grab symbolic readings from any available sources and stir them in a big pot."
"Review" by , "An irreverent romp through the received wisdom of the nursery rhymes with which we all think we are so familiar."
"Review" by , "A merry tour of the origins of favorite nursery rhymes — including wars, land grabs, religious persecution, red-light sex and worthless rulers. Chris Roberts shows that, for understanding our darker nature, Machiavelli's got nuthin' on Mother Goose."
"Review" by , "An intriguing & informative historical trip through those odd little songs I sang as an odd little child. A must-have for anyone who has ever been younger than they are now."
"Synopsis" by , Originally published by the author's company in the UK in October 2003, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown captured the world's attention after a burst of publicity in March 2004. The first print run sold out and rights were bought by Granta (UK) and by Gotham Books. Chris Roberts, a librarian at East London University and the proprietor of Foot and Mouth Walking Tours in London, delivers a lighthearted romp through British history, revealing the seamy and quirky stories behind our favorite nursery rhymes.
"Synopsis" by , Revealing the seamy and quirky stories behind our favorite nursery rhymes, London librarian Chris Roberts traces the origins of the subtle phrases and antiquated references, unearthing religious hatred, political subversion, and sexual innuendo.
"Synopsis" by , Was Little Jack Horner a squatter? aBaa Baa Black Sheepa a bleat about taxation? What did Jack and Jill really do on that hill? Chris Roberts reveals the seamy and quirky stories behind our favorite nursery rhymes.

Nursery rhymes are rarely as innocent as they seemathere is a wealth of concealed meaning in our familiar childhood verse. More than a century after Queen Victoria decided that children were better off without the full story, London librarian Chris Roberts brings the truth to light. He traces the origins of the subtle phrases and antiquated references, revealing religious hatred, political subversion, and sexual innuendo.

Roberts reveals that when Jack, nimble and quick, jumped over a candlestick, he was reenacting a popular sport that tested whether a person was lean and healthy. Humpty Dumpty was actually a cannon mounted on the walls of a church in Colchester, blown up during the English Civil War. Few know that the cockles in aMary, Mary, Quite Contrarya actually refer to cuckolds in the promiscuous court of Mary Queen of Scots. Or that aRub-a-dub-dub, three maids in a tuba was inspired by a fairground peepshow.

A fascinating history lesson that makes astonishing connections to contemporary popular culture, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown is for Anglophiles, parents, history buffs, and anyone who has ever wondered about the origins of rhymes. The book features a glossary of slang and historical terms, and spooky silhouettes of nursery-rhyme characters to accompany the rhymes. Mother Goose will never look the same again.

Praise:

aBoisterous and fascinating.a

--Daily Telegraph

aRobertas entertainingly mischievous readings of these traditionalsongs grab symbolic readings from any available sources and stir them in a big pot.a

--Steven Poole, The Guardian

aRoberts is a lucid and funny writer a his ability to provide a historical overview as he focuses on bygone detail makes fascinating readinga

--Sainsburyas Magazine

aVery meticulous with his research and doesnat try to fool you with waffle or overstatement. Fun and easily digestible wander through history. Though donat be surprised if by the end, much like Jack after head broken his a crowna, you feel like youave lost your innocence.a

--Leeds Guide

aAn irreverent romp through the received wisdom of the nursery rhymes with which we all think we are so familiar.a

--Sunday Herald

aEntertaining exposA(c) of the surprising stories behind well-known nursery rhymes revealing a seething subtext of sexual innuendo, religious hatred and political subversion.a

--Bookseller

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