Humpty Dumpty

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Humpty Dumpty is both a character in an English nursery rhyme and the title of numerous stage and film texts.

Known as Hompie Kedompie in Afrikaans.

The character

Its origins of the Humpty Dumpty character/tale/riddle are obscure, though several theories have been advanced over time. The Wikipedia entry on Humpty Dumpty describes him as "a character in an English nursery rhyme, probably originally a riddle and one of the best known in the English-speaking world....typically portrayed as an anthropomorphic egg, though he is not explicitly described as such".

The well-known rhymes appear to date from the late nineteenth-century in England.

Humpty Dumpty has appeared or been referred to in a large number of works of literature and popular culture over time.

Humpty Dumpty on stage

Numerous stage, film and TV versions of the basic tale, or versions using the character, have been done over the years - including pantomimes, musicals, dances, etc. Since the bulk of these works are created/adapted by performers or performing companies themselves, there are not really any standard texts, though many published texts have appeared and been copyrighted.

A prominent example is the 1868 production called Humpty Dumpty, created and performed by actor George L. Fox (1825–1877)[1], a pantomime version that is considered to have introduced the character of Humpty Dumpty to the general public in the United States. According to Doug Reside, Curator, Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Fox's (which opened at the New Olympic Theatre on Broadway on 9 March, 1868), was one of the most popular American pantomimes of the 19th century.

South African versions

South African performances

1883: In December Henry Harper, who had taken over the remnants of the Mabel Hayes company after she had decamped for Port Elizabeth, put on a production of it as a Christmas pantomime - probably using an adaptation of the Fox script.


Doug Reside. 2011. Musical of the Month: "Humpty Dumpty" (1868), New York Public Library website[2]

Poster for the 1868 New York pantomime, New York Public Library website[3]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.

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