Paula Rego’s anthology of traditional nursery rhymes, illustrated by her sometimes disturbing, but always arresting engravings
The bold, distinctive style of Paula Rego’s paintings has acquired for her not only an ever-increasing critical reputation but also an unusually large and enthusiastic following. Her be-ribboned little-girl heroines and fairy-tale characters seem firmly rooted in childhood, yet the innocence of this art is darkened by the underlying themes of power, domination and rebellion, sexuality and gender, that run through her work.
Here Rego has turned to the nursery rhyme as a source for her imagery. It is a genre that perfectly complements her art; full of double meanings, rhymes are written from a child’s perspective but are open to adult interpretation. Twenty-six well-known nursery rhymes are accompanied by a series of etchings which she has executed spontaneously as a child might, drawing directly on the plate without preparatory planning. Following the traditions of earlier artists such as Beatrix Potter, she treats the fantastic realistically, dressing animals in human costume and using dream-like dislocations of scale. These are wonderfully comic and rich illustrations with a hint of the sinister, that turn classic nursery rhymes into colourful stories about folly and delusion, cruelty, convention and sex.
'In characteristic style, Ms Rego has turned these surreal squibs and childish chants into something mysterious and alarming ... Paula Rego and Marina Warner provide a new filter through which to view their childish subject matter' Independent
'A beautifully produced book ... it is to be kept and treasured' Evening Standard
'Handsome ... more art book than picture book' Times Educational Supplement
Introduction by Marina Warner • Humpty Dumpty • Jack and Jill • Baa, baa, black sheep • See-saw, Margery Daw • Little Miss Muffet • Ride a cock-horse • Mary, Mary, quite contrary • Who killed Cock Robin? • Old Mother Hubbard • Hey diddle diddle • Rub-a-dub-dub • Three blind mice • Mother Goose • Goosey, goosey gander • Ladybird, ladybird • Rock-a-bye, baby • Polly, put the kettle on • Old King Cole • How many miles to Babylon • Hickety, pickety • Sing a song of sixpence • A frog he would a wooing-go • The old woman who lived in a shoe • Ring-a-ring o’ roses • There was a man of double deed • The grand old Duke of York
About the Author
Marina Warner’s study of the Arabian Nights, Stranger Magic (2011) won the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism and the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in 2013; in 2015 she was awarded the Holberg Prize in the Arts and Humanities and was made DBE. She is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, a Fellow of the British Academy and President of the Royal Society of Literature.