There was an old woman tossed up in a basket: Witchy Mother Goose

Old women are frequently portrayed as crones or witches—even in young children’s books. This Victorian-era image is believed to have accompanied a little-known Mother Goose nursery rhyme that goes like this:


There was an old woman tossed up in a basket
Seventy times as high as the moon;

Where she was going I could not but ask it,

For in her hand she carried a broom.

“Old woman, old woman, old woman,” said I,

“O whither, o whither, o whither so high?”

“To sweep up the cobwebs from the sky,

And I’ll be with you by and by!”


If you’ve enjoyed this post, check out the others we’ve created as part of Literary New England’s 5-day Witch-A-Thon, April 1-5. Through Sunday, we’ve got witch book giveaways and lots of other frighteningly wonderful things going on!