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  • Writer's pictureJoyce Slater

Story of the Month: Mother Goose and Mary's Lamb

Many suppose Mother Goose to be an imaginary personage, but she was a real woman, and her maiden name was Elizabeth Foster. She was born in 1665, married Isaac Goose in 1693, a few years later became a member of the Old South church, of Boston, and died in 1757 at the age of 92. Her songs were originally sung to her grandchildren. They were first published in 1716 by her son-in-law, Thomas Fleet, of Boston.


The Mary that had a little lamb was Mary Elizabeth Sawyer, a Massachusetts girl; her lamb was one of twins forsaken by her unnatural mother. Mary took it home and cared for it herself. They became fast friends, and when Mary started to school her pet missed her very much, so one morning it followed her. As school she tucked in under her desk and covered it with her shawl, but when she went out to her spelling class, the lamb trotted after her. The children laughed wildly and the teacher had the lamb removed from the room. On that morning a young student named Rawlinston was a visit at the school. The incident awakened his poetic genius and a few days later he handed Mary the first three verses of the poem. He died soon

after, ignorant of the immortality of his verses.

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