The Yule Days – Day 4 – ‘A goose that was gray’

Thursday 15 December 2022

The king sent his lady on the fourth Yule day,
A goose that was gray,
Three plovers, three partridges, a papingo-aye;

Wha learns my carol and carries it away? 

Rather than a grey goose, today we highlight The diary of a Goose Girl (1902) by Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin (1856-1923) with illustrations by Claude Allin Shepperson (1867-1921). The story is set on a poultry farm in the fictional Barbury Green. The reason for the title is here given in the narrator’s own words:

“In alluding to myself as a Goose Girl, I am using only the most modest of titles; for I am also a poultry-maid, a tender of Belgian hares and rabbits, and a shepherdess; but I particularly fancy the role of Goose girl, because it recalls the German fairy tales of my early youth”.

Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin was an American children’s author and educator.  She started a free kindergarten in 1878 and with her sister, Nora Archibald Smith, established a training school for kindergarten teachers.

Wiggin has connections to Fife as when travelling in the UK, her autobiography (My Garden of Memory) recounts:

“we were house holders in a small way in Upper Largo (Fifeshire)…There were also regular visits to St. Andrews, North Berwick, and Troon, for my husband’s golf” p.296

Wiggin’s Penelope’s experiences in Scotland: being extracts from the commonplace book of Penelope Hamilton, first published in 1898, includes a fictional town of Pettybaw in the East Neuk.  


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