"I feel sorry for the little old lady who lived in a shoe. It must have smelled awful"

Folding card showing the nursery rhyme, 1883
Public DomainFolding card showing the nursery rhyme, 1883 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Stanley is referring to an English nursery rhyme of unknown origin:


“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,

Who had so many children she didn’t know what to do.

She gave them some broth without any bread,

Then whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.”


It is possible that this rhyme is connected to fertility rites involving shoes, or that it is meant to poke fun at George II and his wife Caroline (who had eight children), but the meaning behind the words is much disputed.