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The Tragical Death Of An Apple Pie

November 13, 2022
by the gentle author

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The time in the year for apple pie has arrived. So I take this opportunity to present The Tragical Death of an Apple Pie, an alphabet rhyme first published in 1671, in a version produced by Jemmy Catnach in the eighteen-twenties.

Poet, compositor and publisher, Catnach moved to London from Newcastle in 1812 and set up Seven Dials Press in Monmouth Court, producing more than four thousand chapbooks and broadsides in the next quarter century. Anointed as the high priest of street literature and eager to feed a seemingly-endless appetite for cheap printed novelties in the capital, Catnach put forth a multifarious list of titles, from lurid crime and political satire to juvenile rhymes and comic ballads, priced famously at a quarterpenny or a ‘farden.’

A An Apple Pie

B Bit it

C Cut it

D Dealt it

E Did eat it

F Fought for it

G Got it

H Had it

J Join’d for it

K Kept it

L Long’d for it

M Mourned for it

N Nodded at it

O Open’d it

P Peeped into it

Q Quartered it

R Ran for it

S Stole it

T Took it

V View’d it

W Wanted it

XYZ and & all wished for a piece in hand

Dame Dumpling who made the Apple Pie

You may also like to take a look at

Old Mother Hubbard & Her Dog

Jemmy Catnach’s Cries of London

2 Responses leave one →
  1. November 13, 2022

    A “farden” was a (mispronounced) farthing, not a halfpenny. Collins describes the word as a dialect one but I think that’s going too far; a soft “d” in the middle would sound very similar to “th”, and the “en” ending suggests a dropped “g” to me. But then, I’m not a lexicographer! It’s like pronouncing “halfpenny” as “ha’penny”, which most people did in my young day, before decimalisation.

  2. Stella permalink
    December 9, 2022

    Re Charlotte’s comment, it’s interesting to see that the word ‘farthing’ comes from the old English ‘fēorth’ …(fourth), a farthing or ‘farden’ being a quarter of an old penny. And yes, we all said ‘ha’penny’ pronouncing it ‘hape-nee ’ back in the day!

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