Old Woman Who Went to Market, The (The Old Woman and the Pedlar)
DESCRIPTION: "There was a little woman, as I've heard tell, Fol loll, diddle diddle dol, She went to market her eggs for to sell." She falls asleep along the road. A peddlar cuts off her skirts at the knee. Panic ensues when she awakens
EARLIEST DATE: 1784 (Wallis, according to Opie-Oxford2)
KEYWORDS: humorous drink theft thief disguise
FOUND IN: US(MW,NE,So)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Linscott, pp. 258-259, "The Old Woman Who Went to Market" (1 text, 1 tune)
Grimes, p. 144, "There Is a Little Woman" (1 text)
Moore-Southwest 108, "The Old Woman Who Went to Market" (1 text, 1 tune)
Opie-Oxford2 535, "There was a little woman" (1 text plus a text of "The Wee Wifikie")
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #257, p. 159, "(There was an old woman, as I've heard tell)"
ADDITIONAL: Katherine Briggs, _A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language_, Part A: Folk Narratives, 1970 (I use the 1971 Routledge paperback that combines volumes A.1 and A.2), volume 2, pp. 539-540, "Lawkamercyme" (1 text)
Bodleian, Harding B 28(253), "The Little Woman and Her Eggs," J.Crome (Sheffield), c.1817
cf. "The Wee Wifikie" (theme, lyrics)
NOTES: This has to be related somehow to "The Wee Wifikie." But the nature and direction of the dependence is unclear. If I had to guess, I'd say this came first, because the idea of a peddlar cutting off the woman's *skirt* (which obviously has sexual implications) might be softened by having him cut off her hair.
A letter from Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) to his illustrator Arthur Burdett Frost shows that he knew this piece; in referring to one of Frost's sketches, he said it reminded him of "the condition of the 'little old woman' of the nursery-song, when the pedlar had 'cut short her petticoats round about'" (from a letter of January 30, 1879; Lewis Carroll & His Illustrators: Collaborations & Correspondence, 1865-1898, edited by Morton N. Cohen & Edward Wakeling, Cornell University Press, 2003, p. 56). Dodgson of course never used that particular poem for one of his parodies.
Briggs, p. 540, cites a great many parallels, especially Finnish, but without detailed references, I do not know how close they really are. - RBW
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