Monday, June 07, 2010

Who was Goody Two-Shoes?

The term ‘goody two shoes’ is used to describe an annoyingly (sometimes ingenuous) virtuous person, but where did it originate from?

The origin is unknown but appears in Charles Cotton’s ‘Voyage to Ireland in Burlesque’ which was published in 1670.

“Mistress mayoress complained that the pottage was cold;
'And all long of your fiddle-faddle,' quoth she.
'Why, then, Goody Two-shoes, what if it be?
Hold you, if you can, your tittle-tattle,' quoth he.”

It became more in common use after the publication of The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes in 1765. The works were attributed to John Newbery (1713–1767). It told the Cinderella type story of orphans Margery and Tommy Meanwell, whom due to tragic circumstance were thrown penniless onto the street with only a single shoe. Margery finds she is a gifted teacher and makes up games to help other children read. Eventually good fortune shines and a local vicar finds Tommy a home and gives Margery a new pair of shoes. Delighted she cries to everyone she meets “Two shoes! Two shoes!” which earns her the nickname. Margery becomes the “trotting Tutoress” and eventually becomes the president of “A, B, C College.” There she carries on her charity by admitting children without the means to pay for their education. On the day she gets married Goody Two-Shoes is happily reunited with her brother. The book was a phenomenal success and became a best seller.

John Newberry is considered to be the inventor of children’s literature and was a writer and publisher. However it is not clear whether Newberry actually penned the History of Little Goody Two Shoes. As was his custom he often paid authors for anonymous work. Many scholars belief Good Two Shoes was penned by Oliver Goldsmith and believe the story bares remarkable similarity to his style of writing. Others have cited Giles Jones as the potential author.

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