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Limerick Books
of the 1820s

The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women, illustrated by as many engravings: exhibiting their Principal Eccentricities and Amusements

The first book of English "nonsense verses" was published by John Harris and Son, at the Corner of St. Paul's Church-Yard, in 1820.The author is unknown. A black and white facsimile is available at the Hockliffe Project site.

1-4 5-8 9-12 13-16

Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentlemen

This is the second earliest known book of the verses now known as limericks. It was published, probably in 1821, by Harris's great competitor in the production of children's chap books, John Marshall. Its author seems to have been Richard Scrafton Sharpe, a Bishopsgate grocer, and the drawings were later acknowledged as being by Robert Cruikshank.

1-3 4-6 7-9 10-12 13-15

For both books, I have taken the text from Jean Harrowven's The Limerick Makers (London, The Research Publishing Co., 1976) and the pictures and order of presentation from Iona and Peter Opie's A Nursery Companion (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1980).

A third book was published, probably a short time later, by John Marshall, Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Young Ladies, available online thanks to the Hockliffe Project. This also "may have been written by Richard Scrafton Sharp (c.1775-1852) and illustrated by George Cruikshank's elder brother, Robert."

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