No where in the nursery rhyme does it say that Humpty Dumpty was an egg.
Think about it.
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.
Humpty Dumpty’s fated tale first made an appearance in Juvenile Amusements by Samuel Arnold in 1797. Over the years, the rhyme, exhibiting minor variations to the lyrics, continued to turn up in books. Strangely enough, however, the term “humpty dumpty” did not begin with Mr. Arnold’s book. In fact, in the 1600s, it was the name given to brandy boiled with ale. In the 1700s, it was then used to describe a short and clumsy person.
Although we don’t know for certain, it is possible the rhyme was meant to be a riddle. “The answer to the riddle, of course, is ‘an egg’—something that, if it rolled off a wall, could not be mended by any number of people” (Upton). Or perhaps it was Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass (1871) which described him as an egg that made gave poor Humpty such an appearance.
But like many nursery rhymes which make fun of historical events, some believe the enigma that is Humpty Dumpty is representative of major historical happenings at the time of its writing.
One theory is that Humpty Dumpty was, in fact, the name of a cannon stationed on the defending walls of the town of Colchester, which fell under siege in 1648 during the Second English Civil War. Humpty Dumpty the cannon eventually toppled off the wall and, of course, no one was able to put the cannon back together again due to its weight. But historians aren’t sure of this explanation’s validity because the Fall of Colchester occurred well over a century before the publication of Humpty Dumpty the rhyme. All other theories also remain speculative.
Thus, the most plausible explanation of Humpty Dumpty’s identity is that his woeful tale was a riddle to be told to children.
McAlpine, Dayna. “So… Humpty Dumpty Isn’t Actually an Egg?” HuffPost. 13 January 2023. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/humpty-dumpty-wasnt-an-egg_uk_63c13559e4b0b2e150705bb0#:~:text=Nowhere%20in%20the%20rhyme%20does,the%20more%20obvious%20it%20seems.
Upton, Emily. “The Origin of Humpty Dumpty.” Today I Found Out. 24 April 2013. https://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/04/the-origin-of-humpty-dumpty/.
Owner/Editor of Emerging Ink Solutions, avid YA/NA author, adamant supporter of the Oxford Comma, anime and music enthusiast.