Did Little Miss Muffet have nits?

I didn’t have the £1850 on me, so I had to forego this wonderful opportunity recently:

The first book in Engish on insects, 1658.

The first book in Engish on insects, 1658.

Published in 1658, as part of a larger compilation from various natural history sources, Thomas Muffet’s Theatre of Insects is widely lauded as the first book, in English, on insects. This was a translation of the Latin edition published in 1634. It turns out that Muffet (or Moufet, or Mouffet, or Moffet) did not write much of it, but was the catalyst by which various manuscripts he had inherited finally go into print. He possibly wasn’t that much of a catalyst either, and it only finally rolled off the presses 30 years after his death.

I did have a quick flick through though — fascinating reading, and some charming, if rather crude, woodcut illustrations. I didn’t notice at the time, but he has a whole chapter on head lice.

I’ve filched this from the on-line version of the Latin original. No mistaking this noisome beast.

Translation anyone?

Translation anyone?

The Little Miss Muffet of curds-and-whey nursery rhyme fame was reputed to have been Thomas Muffet’s daughter, taking the ridicule for her father’s peculiar interest in bugs. Perhaps, if the taunters had taken time to read the book through they might have come up with another rhyme, immortalizing her nits. History, and entomology’s loss, I say.

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