Little Miss Muffet is a nursery rhyme from the early 19th century, first printed in 1805 in the Songs for the Nursery collection. The rhyme seems harmless when you first read the lyrics. However, it has dark origins, according to some researchers. Of course, there is no proper evidence, but it does give us chills.
Want to know what’s so creepy about it? Do you also want to know about another possible interpretation of the rhyme, which is equally unsettling?
Scroll down to find the original and extended lyrics of the rhyme and learn more about its origins.
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away
Little Miss Muffet,
Sat on a Tuffet,
Eating her Bread and Jam,
Along came a Spider,
While she was Drinking her Cider,
And she ran away, and her shoes fell off!
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Origins and History
The exact origins of Little Miss Muffet are not clear. However, the rhyme was first recorded in 1805 and is listed in the Roud Folk Song Index at 20605. The rhyme contained a single stanza of six lines. A few words were changed in the subsequent versions though the theme remained the same. A second stanza was added to extend the rhyme and make it funnier for kids.
So what about the backstory? Who was Miss Muffet? Well, people say that Miss Muffet was the daughter of Thomas Muffett, an English physician from the 16th century. The innocent version says that the girl was frightened when a spider appeared on the table when she was having breakfast, and she ran away. The spider is said to belong to her father’s collection.
The dark version of the story goes that the physician would feed his daughter crushed arachnids to cure her sickness. Eww, right? They say the daughter, Patience, was one of his patients too. Thomas Muffet used spiders as a cure for a cold. No wonder the girl would run away when she saw a spider for breakfast.
If this doesn’t seem bad enough, some say that Miss Muffet refers to Mary Queen of Scots. A report in The Washington Post wrote that John Knox, the Presbyterian reformer, was the spider who constantly targeted Mary Queen of Scots for being a catholic. Historical reports show that he was among those who alleged that Mary was an adulteress and murderess. She was executed.
A tuffet is a low stool or footstool. It can also imply the small mounds or hillocks where a person can sit and rest. It’s called a tuft and is a common sight in the countryside.
Yes. Many early publications have different versions of the rhyme. A few examples are- Little Mary Ester sat upon a tester in 1812, Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet in the 1830s, and Little Miss Mopsey, Sat in the shopsey in 1842.