Although there are some assumptions regarding the historical origin of “Old Mother Hubbard”s character, this nursery rhyme was written and illustrated by Sarah Catherine Martin (around 1804) – mainly to amuse her sister’s children.

The poem was first told at her sister’s house, Judith Anne Marti, wife of the notorious politician John Pollexfen Bastard. The lyrics were actually inspired by an old housekeeper of her sister’s house, who lived in a cottage on their property after giving up work.

When the illustrated book was first published in 1805 it was very successful and the poem became one of the most popular nursery rhymes of all times.

It is possible that the story was based on an earlier poem for children, “Old Dame” that appeared in 1803, which is written in a very different manner though.

Old Mother Hubbard character was related to either St. Hubert, the protector of hunters, mathematicians, opticians and metalworkers, or more commonly with Cardinal Thomas Wolsey – just like another nursery rhyme Little Boy Blue – but there are no evidences to support either one of these theories.

“Old Mother Hubbard” Lyrics

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone:
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

She went to the baker’s
To buy him some bread;
When she came back
The dog was dead!

She went to the undertaker’s
To buy him a coffin;
When she came back
The dog was laughing.

She took a clean dish
to get him some tripe;
When she came back
He was smoking his pipe.

She went to the alehouse
To get him some beer;
When she came back
The dog sat in a chair.

She went to the tavern
For white wine and red;
When she came back
The dog stood on his head.

She went to the fruiterer’s
To buy him some fruit;
When she came back
He was playing the flute.

She went to the tailor’s
To buy him a coat;
When she came back
He was riding a goat.

She went to the hatter’s
To buy him a hat;
When she came back
He was feeding her cat.

She went to the barber’s
To buy him a wig
When she came back
He was dancing a jig.

She went to the cobbler’s
To buy him some shoes;
When she came back
He was reading the news.

She went to the sempstress
To buy him some linen;
When she came back
The dog was spinning.

She went to the hosier’s
To buy him some hose;
When she came back
He was dressed in his clothes.

The Dame made a curtsy,
The dog made a bow;
The Dame said, Your servant;
The dog said, Bow-wow.

This wonderful dog
Was Dame Hubbard’s delight,
He could read, he could dance,
He could sing, he could write;
She gave him rich dainties
Whenever he fed,
And erected this monument
When he was dead.

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