Who first wrote nursery rhymes?
Hardly a child grows up without learning by heart "Hey Diddle, Diddle," "Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake," or "Jack and Jill." We call them nursery rhymes, and sometimes Mother Goose rhymes.
The name Mother Goose first appeared in a collection of fairy tales by a Frenchman, Charles Perrault, which was published in 1697. But it is possible that the name had been known long before that as a way of describing women who were village storytellers.
A Boston printer, Thomas Fleet, is reported to have published in 1719 a book called "Songs for the Nursery; or Mother Goose's Melodies for Children." But no copy of this book has ever been found.
Most nursery rhymes were never intended for the nursery. During the 16th century in England adults sang ballads, madrigals, and rounds, Mothers sang the songs to their infants, and so the songs were brought into the nursery.
There were also rhymes that referred to political events and were recited and sung everywhere. Children hearing them would take a catch refrain or phrase and make the musical rhymes their own.