"Three Little Kittens
" is one of the popular English nursery rhymes and British folk songs. The sophisticated piece is credited to Eliza Lee Cabot Follen, an American poet. Later, the rhyme was included in the Mother Goose collection. "Three Little Kittens" nursery rhyme is about the three naughty kittens who first lose, then find and soil their mittens. And when all is set right, their mom gives them a sweet treat of pie.
The rhyme was published in 1827 in 'The Eton Miscellany' by William Ewart Gladstone. Later, the version was published in 1833 as an unknown addition to a volume of Follen's verse. She may have improved an existing rude version of the poem and in the process, claimed its ownership as the rhyme passed through several reprints.
"Three Little Kittens" was first published in 1843 in the United States in Follen's 'New Nursery Songs for All Good Children'. An American version was reprinted in 1856, titled as "A Cat's Tale", which included some additional verses.
Follen's rhyme was elaborated by R. M. Ballantyne and published his prose version in 1858 in a volumes of the 'Good Little Pig's Library'. Origin of Three Little Kittens
Several theories have been advanced to explain the origin of "Three Little Kittens". Janet Sinclair Gray traces it origin in the British folk tradition. She supports her theory by pointing out that the cats are not the barnyard felines of folk material, but bourgeois domestic cats wore mitten and at pie. She also observed that mom cat's disciplinary measures and etiquettes and kittens need to tell all about their activities are also indicators of a bourgeois status. Popularity
Unlike other nursery rhymes and kids' songs, "Three Little Kittens" gained a huge popularity and very soon found it's place in the 'Mother Goose Collection'. Unlike any of Follen's typical poems, "Three Little Kittens" emphasized on fantasies which involved anthropomorphic characters, satirical nonsense and verbal play.
"Three Little Kittens" is believed to be a keystone in the shift from moral literature to romantic literature, which intends to entertain and amuse the kids.