There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe


I’ve loved the image of the old woman living in the shoe since I was a child.  (So much so, that it inspired the Mama Lisa logo!)  Of course, the rhyme itself leaves something to be desired…

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children she didn’t know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
She whipped them all soundly, and put them to bed.

I’ll just keep the first line in my mind with the wonderful image of living in a giant shoe…  Like the interesting one above.  It’s from a drawing by P. Vinton Brown.


Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 10:34 pm and is filed under Arts and Crafts, Countries & Cultures, England, English, English Nursery Rhymes, Illustrations, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, United Kingdom. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

19 Responses to “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”

  1. Tinker Jack Says:

    Dear Lisa,

    It is probably not the correct place to put this comment, but I could not find any better for that. Actually, I am searching for the list of words like – OOPs, Vow, Achoo, Jammy, etc – words that reflect sudden emotional reactions merely from the English speaking world. There are many examples for them here, but all scattered. I would love to know whether they have a specific name at all? If you have some ideas how to search on….
    Thank you, one of your avid follower

  2. Monique Says:

    They’re called “interjections” and Here you are, and there too. You should find some other by putting “English interjections” into Google. Good luck!

  3. Lisa Says:

    I wrote a little blog post about English interjections for you too! Check it out!


    -Mama Lisa

  4. Tinker Jack Says:


  5. Sita Says:

    I memorized (in my childhood in the 50s) a version of the old lady who lived in a house which blew down, then went to live in a shed, a haystack, then a box, then out of doors until they found the perfect shoe. the giant came and tried to put on the shoe, but thought there was a mouse in it, so he ran away and they got to stay.
    I would love to find out if ANYbody else knows about this long poem and perhaps find out the author. It was from a smal “Children’s Book” of rhymes, verse, short stories… long gone from my grandma’s home … I’d be glad to send the whole poem if you’d like.

  6. Lisa Says:

    That sounds familiar. You can post it here if you’d like in the hope of getting more info. Or you can send it to be and I’ll post it as a full blog post. Please give any info you have about the original book it was in.

    Thanks! Mama Lisa

  7. Sita Says:

    thanks! I think I’ll send it to you as a Word doc plus what little I remember of the book.
    I love your site! thank you for all your hard work! ~Sita

  8. Merran Says:

    I too remember the poem Sita is referring to and have searched in vain for it. I recall finding it in an anthology of poems when I was doing emergency teaching once; it appealed to me, so I copied it to take home for reading to my children…who loved it.
    I remember that the giant lost his shoe one day when he was walking in a field. The family of mice moved in and enjoyed their new comfortable circumstances. Then I remember, “Why, here is my poor old shoe ” he said, “that I lost a year ago”. He put it on with words like, “I will put on my…shoe…to comfort my poor old feet”.
    Then – “A mouse, a mouse, a terrible mouse!”. He ran away, and the poem ended with, “We may live here my dears, for ever and ever.”
    I want to be able to read it to my grandchildren and would be delighted if anyone can point me in the right direction to locate a copy of this great poem for young children. I recall one of my daughters chuckling every time I got to “A mouse, a mouse etc….”

  9. Larry Slocum Says:

    Dr Becky Baily has rewritten this poem:
    There was a wonderful woman who lived in a shoe.
    She had so many children she knew exaclty what to do.
    She held them,
    She rocked them,
    And tucked them in bed.
    “I love you, I love you, I love,” is what she said.
    There are motions and a song – check out the “I love You rituals” book. My children love it!

  10. Karen Babst Says:

    I am looking for 3 verse song to there was an old woman who lived in a shoe. The second verse was the mother getting frustrated and leaving and the 3rd verse was the children cleaning and the mother coming back and children singing a tralala little tune. It was a record from the 50’s.

  11. Tammy Says:

    I would be sooooo happy to get the poem about the old lady that lived in a house till it blew down. My mother used to tell me that storiy and I loved it! I am now a mother of 5 children and would love to have it back for memories.

  12. RICKF Says:

    I have an original color print of the above drawing if anyone is interested. The drawing is by P. Vinton Brown

  13. Tammy C Says:

    I really would be sooooo happy to get the version of the there was an old lady who lived in a house till the house blew done on her head, so she took her 12 children up under her arm and said let us live in a shed???? theres a haystack and a shoe that the Giant finds? Please help

  14. ferzana Says:

    i remember almost the whole poem, just a few lines missing. there was an old woman who lived in a house. if anyone finds it pl help. need it for group recitation.

  15. Daryn Says:

    The book is “the Giant’s shoe” by Jessica Nelson North. I have all but the last page if that is helpful?

  16. Sharon Says:

    I have remembered most of the verse since I read it to my children back in the late 1960’s and early ’70’s, but may have a few lines wrong after all these years. Here it is from my memory -I too have lost the little storybook.
    There was an old lady who lived in a house
    And the house fell down on her head.
    She took her twelve children up under her arms
    And went to live in a shed.

    But the wind blew up and the shed blew down
    And the children blew far and wide.
    “We’ll go and live in a haystack now.”
    The cheerful old woman cried.

    They lived in a haystack very well,
    Six boys, six girls and their mother-
    ‘Til the hungry cows ate up their house
    And they had to find another.

    “We’ll live in a box by the side of the road!”
    And this they proceeded to do,
    ‘Til a bonfire came and burned their box
    And they said “Let us live in a shoe!”

    But the shoes were too small and the heels were too tall,
    And the toes were far too tight,
    And they slept outdoors for weeks and weeks
    Before they found one that was right.

    A shoe so right, so roomy and bright
    It surely couldn’t be true!
    They made their kitchen in the heel
    And slept in the toe of the shoe.

    They slept in the toe where the wind wouldn’t blow
    Six boys and six girls in their beds,
    And out of the holes where the lacings go
    They stuck their wee little heads.

    Now every day the old mother would say,
    As she dusted and swept her floor:
    “If the giant comes who wore this shoe
    It won’t be our home any more!”

    But the children played and were unafraid
    While the mother dusted and swept,
    ‘Til a giant high with his head in the sky
    Came by while the family slept.

    “Why here is my good old shoe” he said,
    “That I lost a year ago.”
    He picked it up and the children rolled
    From their twelve little beds in the toe.

    “We must lie very still so that none of us spill”
    Said the mother, “Whatever we do.”
    And the giant heard not even a word
    As he hurried home with his shoe.

    Six boys, six girls, the mother and all
    Lay still in the toe of their house
    The giant put in his foot and cried
    “A mouse! A terrible mouse!”

    He ran away in a torrent of tears
    And he never came back there, never!
    And the old woman said “We will live here my Dears,
    Forever and ever and ever!”

    And then because my little boy, Dennis, felt so sorry for the poor old giant,
    I had to make up another verse:

    The very next day the old giant came back
    And he said “You weren’t a mouse!
    But you can have my good old shoe
    To live in, for your house!”

  17. Jennifer Says:

    Thanks so much Sharon for writing down this cherished poem! I too, was told this poem over and over as a child from my mother and aunts. My grandmother recited it to her children which would have been in the late 40’s or early 50’s. It must have been published earlier than the children’s book in 1960. I never made the connection that they were mice until I was an adult. I always envisioned tiny people. : ) My memory has faded over time and this fills in most of the blanks. There is a line missing near the end though that goes something like this; ….Then finally they arrived at the giant’s street. (another line might go here, then) “i shall put on my poor old shoe said he, to comfort my poor old feet….and he stuck in his foot….

  18. Carol Blacutt Says:

    Thank you, Sharon! I remember this poem well, but not every single word. How I loved to have our mother repeat it to us at bedtime! I will now share with my seven year old daughter! :) :) :)

  19. ferzana Says:

    thank you Sharon. and i love your addition

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