‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ is such a familiar rhyme for children, that we often forget the fact that it has a named author – Jane Taylor (1783-1824). The rhyme is the first stanza of a poem in Rhymes for the Nursery (1806), a volume of verse for children written by Jane Taylor in collaboration with her sister Ann. The poems were specially commissioned by publishers Darton and Harvey following the success of a previous book of verse by the sisters. The charm and originality of ‘The Star’ surely lies in Jane Taylor’s ability to express a tenderness in the relationship between mother and baby as they look at the night sky together. In her autobiography, Ann remembered Jane describing her writing process: ‘I try to conjure some child into my presence, address her suitably, as well as I am able and when I begin to flag, I say to her, “There love, now you may go”’.
The poem is famously parodied in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) when the Hatter recites:
Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!
- Article by:
- Hannah Gabrielle
Hannah Gabrielle, Head of Content and Community at the British Library looks at some of the literary and social influences on Lewis Carroll that lead to the much loved children's novel Alice in Wonderland
- Article by:
- Martin Dubois
- Childhood and children's literature
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is crammed with animals: a grinning cat, a talking rabbit, an enormous caterpillar and countless others. Dr Martin Dubois explores anthropomorphism and nonsense in Lewis Carroll’s novel, revealing the literary traditions that underpin it – and those it inspired.