Granta questions Allen Lane blurb

<p>Granta has queried the similarities between a forthcoming Allen Lane title on nursery rhymes and one of its own books. Granta claims that the catalogue copy for Albert Jack&#39;s <em>Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes</em> (Allen Lane, October) is almost identical to the cover blurb for its own <em>Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme</em> by Chris Roberts, published in 2004. Granta&#39;s cover reads: &quot;Was Little Jack Horner a squatter? Was &#39;Baa Baa Black Sheep&#39; a bleat about taxation? Is &#39;Jack and Jill&#39; about loss of virginity?&quot;, while the catalogue copy for the forthcoming Albert Jack title asks the same questions (see below). </p><p>Penguin Press editorial director Georgina Laycock said the catalogue copy had been &quot;cobbled together from a variety of sources&quot; at the last minute because an author delivered late, and that it has since been changed. She promised that <em>Pop Goes the Weasel</em> would &quot;be very different to everything published previously on the subject&quot;.</p><p>Granta editorial director Sara Holloway said: &quot;We&#39;re flattered that Penguin liked our cover copy so much that they used it verbatim . . . We&#39;re assuming the inside of the book will not be so closely modelled on Chris Roberts&#39; wonderful labour of love, and look forward to reading it to see whether that is the case.&quot;</p><p>Penguin&#39;s book should not be confused with <em>Pop Goes the Weasel: Best-loved Nursery Rhymes and What They Really Mean </em>by Jon Stroud, to be published by Summersdale in October.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Cover copy for HEAVY WORDS LIGHTLY THROWN: THE REASON BEHIND THE RHYME by Chris Roberts, published by Granta in 2004/5</em></p><p>Was Little Jack Horner a squatter? Baa Baa Black Sheep a bleat about taxation? Is Jack and Jill about loss of virginity? And Goosie Goosie Gander about prostitution? This ingenious book delves into the hidden meanings of the most innocuous-sounding nursery rhymes, exposing a seething and subversive mass of sexual innuendo, religious hatred, financial hardship and political rebellion. It contains a multitude of the kind of surprising nuggets you want to pass on to your friends. It makes us look afresh at the words we parroted innocently as children, and provides an accessible lesson in British history along the way. Each rhyme (and an additional chapter on sex and relationships in nursery rhymes) is illustrated by a contemporary artist, varying in style from the traditional to the modern and bringing a whole new dimension to the reasons behind the rhyme.</p><p><em>Catalogue copy for POP GOES THE WEASEL: THE SECRET MEANINGS OF NURSERY RHYMES by Albert Jack, from Allen Lane&rsquo;s autumn 2008 catalogue:</em><br /> <br />Was &#39;Little Jack Horner&#39; a squatter? &#39;Georgie Porgie&#39; the disreputable Prince Regent? And &#39;Baa Baa Black Sheep&#39; a bleat about taxation? Is &#39;Jack and Jill&#39; about loss of virginity? And if &#39;Ring a Ring a Roses&#39; isn&rsquo;t about catching the plague, what is it really about? This ingenious book delves into the hidden meanings of the most innocuous-sounding nursery rhymes and songs, and exposes a subversive mass of sexual innuendo, religious hatred, financial hardship and political rebellion. Full of charming illustrations and with the words of each rhyme reproduced, Albert Jack has discovered a multitude of the kind of surprising stories you won&rsquo;t be able to resist passing on to your friends. Pop Goes the Weasel makes us look afresh at the words we parroted innocently as children, and provides an accessible lesson in British history along the way.<br /> </p>