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Was Little Miss Muffet a local girl?

A retired journalist from Australia, whose hobby is surfing the internet and writing about what he finds, has been investigating whether the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet was written about a local girl who lived in Moffats Lane.

Eric Shackle began his research after spotting a story on this site which included a number of images of local spiders taken by Steve Herliczer.

Eric's article entitled Was Brookmans Park Lass Really Miss Muffet begins by referring back to the item that sparked Eric's imagination.

Dr. Thomas Muffet, who lived in Brookmans Park in the 16th century, would have been delighted to see a news item currently featured on this website of his old hometown. Under the headline "Rare hornet found in Brookmans Park", it says, "A hornet seldom seen in England has been captured in Brookmans Park. A resident living in Woodlands spotted the large insect flying around his kitchen."

The website also shows a page of colour photographs of local insects, most of which he would have recognised, for he was a famous entomologist, who wrote The Theatre of Insects, the first scientific catalogue of British native species.

Many Brookmans Park residents believe the good doctor, who lived from 1553 to 1604, was the father of Little Miss Muffet, and that he had composed the cute little nursery rhyme which millions of children around the world have recited since his day.

One of the history books on this site, Dorothy Colville's North Mymms - Parish and People also examines whether Little Miss Muffet was written for a local girl in Chapter 17, Moffatts House and Muffets Farm.

Eric, whose work has been published in the New York Times, Toronto Globe and Mail (Canada), Sydney Morning Herald, and Straits Times in Singapore has recently published a free e-book entitled Life begins at 80.

June 19, 2001

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