Thirteen Things Thursday: The real Mary who really had a little lamb

  1. The nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is based on a real person. Will Moses wrote and illustrated a children’s book about this real person called Mary and Her Little Lamb: The True Story of the Famous Nursery Rhyme.
  2. Philip received a copy of the book last week through the Imagination Library program. When I posted on the blog about this, several people commented that they wanted to hear the back story.
  3. Mary Elizabeth Sawyer was born on March 22, 1806 and died on December 11, 1889.
  4. One spring, a sickly newborn lamb had been abandoned by its mother. Mary nursed the lamb to health, and it became quite attached to her.
  5. Not long after, the lamb followed Mary to the Redstone Schoolhouse of District 2 in Sterling, Massachusetts.
  6. Since the teacher, Miss Polly Kimball, had not yet arrived, Mary was able to hide the lamb under her desk.
  7. When Mary was called to the front of the class, the lamb followed. Her classmates (and Miss Kimball) laughed.
  8. John Roulstone was visiting the school on the day when the incident took place. He composed the now-famous nursery rhyme and gave it to Mary the next day.
  9. In the 1830s, Sarah Josepha Hale edited and published the poem. She is credited with added three more stanzas to Roulstone’s original verse.
  10. Later, one of the earliest music educators in the United States, Lowell Mason, set the poem to music.
  11. In 1877, the rhyme became the first thing ever recorded on a phonograph by Thomas Edison.
  12. The schoolhouse was moved to Sudbury, Massachusetts in 1927 and remained in use until 1951. It has now been preserved as part of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn Historical Landmark.
  13. A statue commemorating the lamb is located on the Town Common of Sterling.


I’ll be linking up with the Yeah Write #114 Weekend Moonshine Grid. Come back anytime after 6:00 pm on Friday to click through to other great posts.

14 thoughts on “Thirteen Things Thursday: The real Mary who really had a little lamb

  1. Whoa, finding out the true story makes it that much more interesting, eh? I’m inspired – from now on I’ll be showing up at work with a personal lamb. My colleagues will just have to deal with it!


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