Usually represented by an egg, “Humpty Dumpty” is a famous character in an English nursery rhyme.
It also appears in literature works and other popular culture such as Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll, Mother Goose in Prose by L. Frank Baum, The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin, and the Jasper Fforde’s novels The Well of Lost Plots and The Big Over Easy.
Humpty Dumpty dates back to the early 19th century. At its origins it was a riddle, and the egg was probably the riddle’s answer.
In 17th century “humpty dumpty” was the name of a kind of brandy (source: Oxford English Dictionary) and the term was also used as a slang to describe a dull person. Exactly like an egg, if such a clumsy person would fall down from a wall, this would be an irremediable thing.
The riddle was first published in Gammer Gurton’s Garland in 1810. Before that it was found in a manuscript of Mother Goose’s Melody, 1803. The last line was the only difference between it and the modern version: “Could not set Humpty Dumpty up again”
“Humpty Dumpty” Lyrics
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
“Humpty Dumpty” Original Lyrics
First printed vesion:
Humpty Dumpty sate [sic] on a wall,
Humpti Dumpti [sic] had a great fall;
Threescore men and threescore more,
Cannot place Humpty dumpty as he was before.