20 February 2011

The Cat and the Fiddle: Queen Elizabeth I as the Cat

High diddle diddle,
The Cat played the Fiddle,
The Cow jump'd over the Moon,
The little dog laugh'd to see such Craft,
And the Dish ran away with the Spoon.


Originally published in 1765 as High Diddle, Diddle, the nursery rhyme that was written from oral tradition, is believed to be either nonsense or something more intriguing. One theory is that the Cat represents Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) who often played or fiddled with her cabinet members as if they were mice being toyed with by a predatory feline. The little dog signifies Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester (1532-1588), the favorite of the Queen who she referred to as her lap dog. The Cow and Moon were nicknames for other cabinet members. An unknown artist rendered Elizabeth in a the of style Italian Mannerist painter Federigo Zuccaro c. 1580. English Golden Age illustrator Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) portrays the cat exotically dressed in his 1913 edition of Mother Goose. Charles Francis Annesley Voysey (1857–1941), the English Arts & Crafts architect, furniture, and textile designer created an equally whimsical wallpaper, Hey Diddle, Diddle.

3 comments:

  1. Interesting background story, as always Kendra.

    Cheers,

    Claudia

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Claudia, I hope you had a lovely Spring weekend. Best, Kendra

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  3. I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS. MY PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS USED TO RECITE THIS ALL THE TIME AROUND THE HOUSE. WE BEGAN TO THINK OF IT IN THE DEEPEST PARTS OF THE BRAIN. I REGRET THAT I DIDN'T TOSS IT AROUND TO MY CHILDREN. IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO TEACH IT TO MY GRANDSON.  

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