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The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes

The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes

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The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes is a little children's story published by John Newbery in London in 1765
1765 in literature
-Events:* Beginning of Sturm und Drang movement in German literature.* Arthur Murphy introduces Hester Thrale and her husband to Samuel Johnson.*Denis Diderot completes Encyclop├ędie.-New books:* Henry Brooke - The Fool of Quality...

. The story popularized the phrase "goody two-shoes", often used to describe an excessively virtuous person.


Goody Two-Shoes is a variation of the Cinderella
"Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper" is a folk tale embodying a myth-element of unjust oppression/triumphant reward. Thousands of variants are known throughout the world. The title character is a young woman living in unfortunate circumstances that are suddenly changed to remarkable fortune...

 story. The fable tells of Goody
Goodwife , usually abbreviated Goody, was a polite form of address for women, formerly used where "Mrs.", "Miss" and "Ms." would be used today. Its male counterpart is Goodman...

 Two-Shoes, the nickname of a poor orphan girl named Margery Meanwell, who goes through life with only one shoe. When she is given a complete pair by a rich gentleman, she is so happy that she tells everyone that she has "two shoes". Later, Margery becomes a teacher and marries a rich widower. This earning of wealth serves as proof that her virtuousness has been rewarded, a popular theme in children's literature of the era.


The anonymous story was published in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, by the John Newbery
John Newbery
John Newbery was an English publisher of books who first made children's literature a sustainable and profitable part of the literary market. He also supported and published the works of Christopher Smart, Oliver Goldsmith and Samuel Johnson...

 company, a publisher of popular children's literature. In his introduction to an 1881 edition of the book, Charles Welsh wrote:

The anonymous author

The story was later attributed to the Irish author Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish writer, poet and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield , his pastoral poem The Deserted Village , and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man and She Stoops to Conquer...

, though this is disputed. Because Goldsmith frequently wrote for pay, and because of his copious fiction in essays (e.g. The Bee and Citizen of the World), the attribution to Goldsmith is plausible. Washington Irving
Washington Irving
Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works...

 was one supporter of Goldsmith's authoring the book, saying that "Several quaint little tales introduced in Goldsmith's Essays show that he had a turn for this species of mock history; and the advertisement and title-page bear the stamp of his sly and playful humor." However, the book has also been attributed to Newbery himself, and to Giles Jones, a friend of Newbery's. "Booksellers" (publishers) such as Newbery would frequently pay authors for anonymous work, and there can be no certain attribution.

Origin of the phrase "goody two-shoes"

Although The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes is credited with popularizing the term "goody two-shoes", the actual origin of the phrase is unknown. It appears a century earlier in Charles Cotton
Charles Cotton
Charles Cotton was an English poet and writer, best known for translating the work of Michel de Montaigne from the French, for his contributions to The Compleat Angler, and for the highly influential The Compleat Gamester which has been attributed to him.-Early life:He was born at Beresford Hall...

's Voyage to Ireland in Burlesque (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.

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