History of Little Bo Peep

Little Bo Peep is a classic mother goose rhyme.It is often recited to small children. You may be wondering where did this rhyme about this little shepherd girl come from. Is the rhyme just about herding sheep? Below is the origins of Bo Peep.

Origins Of The Rhyme

Little Bo Peep was first published in 1805. This first printed copy only held the first verse. The Nursery Parnassus featured the full rhyme in 1810. In 1870 James William Elliot created the melody for the rhyme. There is no sign of this rhyme before the 1800s. It is interesting to note a kids game titled bo peep appeared in the time of Shakespeare. This game was like peek a boo. One theory of what this rhyme may mean is that it is a rhyme about smugglers. Chelsfield England was also known as the bo peep in the late 18th century. There were many smugglers in this area because of the many labyrinths and tunnels. Smugglers could go through the tunnels and drop off their London contraband.
Leave them alone, and they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them. According to the smuggler theory, the tails are kegs of contraband. This line is words of advice to the customs office.
Another theory is that Bo Peep is a cautionary tale about being foolish passed down from parent to child. Bo Peep was responsible for those sheep. Instead of keeping an eye on them like a good shepherdess she losses track of them. Then instead of going out to look, she thought she could wait and they would come home. Sheep are not known for there navigation skills. They tend to flock together and follow the crowd.bo peep was foolish in many ways and this could serve to caution children not to be like her.

Variations of The Rhyme

A lot of variations change the last line. Common variations are bringing their tails behind them, or dragging their tails behind them. The variation in lyrics is thought to be from the lyric being misheard when passed between mother and child. It could also be because the writers of newer nursery rhyme books cleaned up the rhymes to make them more acceptable for young children. There are four other parts of the rhyme that are often overlooked. The last stanzas tell how bo peep went after her sheep.

Where To Find The Rhyme

Bo Peep originated in England but has spread worldwide. Nursery schools and kindergarten commonly tell this rhyme. The rhyme is like a familiar story to many children. Since most children already know this poem, it is easy for them to guess what will come next.

Bo Peep in Pop Culture

This little Shepard girl has become a popular, recognizable figure. She is one of the toys in the toy story movies. She also appears in many kids shows. She has an appearance in Super Why, Teletubbies, and Sesame Street. In the 1934 version of Babes In Toyland Bo Peep was the main female lead.