Goops and How to be Them (1900)
by Gelett Burgess

In 1917 James T. White noted in a snapshot of Gelett Burgess's life:

    Born in Boston on January 30, 1866, Frank Gelett Burgess graduated from M.I.T. in 1887 with a B.Sc. and went to work as a draftsman, eventually becoming an instructor at the University of California at Berkeley. His gift was comic verse and fiction. In 1895-97 he edited The Lark in San Francisco and from then on contributed to magazines and published humorous novels, poems, and stories, including his elaborately illustrated The Burgess Nonsense Book (1901) and The Rubaiyat of Omar Cayenne (1904). He had moved to New York City in 1897 and married Estelle Loomis in 1914 but lived in Paris during the first world war. His main claim to fame was "The Purple Cow." He died on September 18, 1951, in Carmel, California.

(The National Cyclopedia of American Biography (public domain)

Written for ages 4-8 the following is one of the more memorable verses from this book:


Didn't you say they were borrowed?
You'd better take back just a few.
If you lent your playthings,
I think you would say things'
If no one returned them to you.

This delightfully "'manual of manners for impolite infants 'classic is a tongue in cheek book on etiquette for young children demonstrating virtues such as courtesy, generosity, neatness, cleanliness and honesty to name a few. Comprised of forty three clever verses is a cheerful, reasonable description of how to remain Goop-free, at least until adulthood.

Please note that the texts of this poem according to Representative Poetry Online
are thought to be in the public domain.


Burgess, Gelett. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001:

Goops and How to Be Them: A Manual of Manners for Polite Infants Inculcating Many Juvenile Virtues Both by Precept and Example:

How table manners became polite:

Representative Poetry Online:

CST Approved

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