There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
she had so many children she didn’t know what to do.
She fed them all broth without any bread,
then whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.
This nursery rhyme was supposedly written to make fun of King George II and his wife. They had eight children who were apparently driving the woman quite mad.
Another thought is that it refers to King George who began the men’s fashion for wearing white powdered wigs in the 1700’s. He was consequently referred to as the old woman! The children were the members of parliament and the bed was the Houses of Parliament – even today the term ‘whip’ is used in the English Parliament to describe a member of Parliament who is tasked to ensure that all members ‘toe the party line’.
As a point of historical interest the wigs worn by women of the period were so large and unhygienic that it became necessary to include mousetraps in their construction! (rhymes.org)
16″x20″ oil on canvas Copyright Bill Reed 2007