So... Humpty Dumpty Isn't Actually An Egg?

And the truth is weirder than you can imagine.
Nowhere in the rhyme does it say he's an egg...
Dave King via Getty Images
Nowhere in the rhyme does it say he's an egg...

Good news everyone – your entire childhood has been a lie.

Yup, it turns out that Humpty Dumpty from one of your favourite nursery rhymes wasn’t actually an egg and the more we think about it, the more obvious it seems.

Let’s give you a rhyme refresher:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Source: The Dorling Kindersley Book of Nursery Rhymes

Still a banger even now, but does it actually mention that HD was an egg?

The idea that Humpty was an egg first appeared in Lewis Carroll’s 1872 novel, Through the Looking-Glass. Chapter six of the book is entitled ‘Humpty Dumpty’ where he is described in all his eggy glory.

“However, the egg only got larger and larger, and more and more human: when she had come within a few yards of it, she saw that it had eyes and a nose and mouth; and when she had come close to it, she saw clearly that it was Humpty Dumpty himself. ‘It can’t be anybody else!’ she said to herself. ‘I’m as certain of it, as if his name were written all over his face.’”

Extract from Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll.

So it’s safe to say that this is where the idea that Humpty was an egg came from, but the rhyme apparently came before Lewis Carroll’s novel.

Fortunately, after a Twitter exchange, the truth has been uncovered again, and Humpty’s true identity is even weirder than we first thought.

It all started when author Holly Bourne tweeted:

She added in a follow-up tweet: “Also, imagine having NO ARMY because they’re busy fixing a broken egg.

“The king sent literally EVERYONE out to save the giant egg who isn’t actually an egg, leaving the realm wide open for attack.”

Jane Etheridge, who is the Vice Chair of Federation of Children’s Book Groups, came to the rescue and offered a theory as to what HD actually is.

And apparently he was... a cannon?!

She wrote: “It’s believed to be Roundhead propaganda about a Royalist cannon. First appearance as an egg was in Through the Looking Glass.”

It adds up with the ideas of several war historians, who agree that he was in fact a cannon. Yep. A large cannon which is believed to have been used in English Civil War (1642-1649), specifically, in the 1648 Siege of Colchester.

Sure, we now know the truth, but it’s way easier to imagine an egg smashed to bits than a CANNON?!

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