Did You Know Goldilocks Was Impaled On St Paul's Cathedral?

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 30 months ago
Did You Know Goldilocks Was Impaled On St Paul's Cathedral?
Told you. Image: Public domain.

Which versions of Goldilocks and the Three Bears do you know? The one where Goldilocks is caught by the bears and legs it off into the forest? The one where the bears gobble her up? Or the one where Goldilocks is a delinquent old woman who winds up impaled on St Paul's Cathedral?

Do not adjust your browser. Although the best-known versions of the fairy tale spring from Robert Southey and Joseph Cundall, in fact one of the earliest known 'Three Bears' adaptations was written by Eleanor Mure in 1831. And it's got quite the denouement.

You're going to live to regret that, Goldilocks. Image: Pubic domain

Not a lot is known about Mure, but her beautifully-illustrated storybook — rediscovered in 1951 in Toronto — was made as a birthday gift for a child, Horace Broke.

'The Story of the Three Bears' is written in verse, and tells the tale of a 'greedy old woman', who filches the bears' milk (not porridge), busts their chairs, and sleeps in their beds.

Goldilocks slurps up the bears' milk, rather than their porridge. Image: Public domain

Like a lot of original fairy tales, things get grisly. After Goldilocks — who was later turned into a little girl by Joseph Cundall — has wreaked havoc in the bears' house, she's caught cowering in a closet.

Instead of the intruder running off into the trees and never returning, though, a darker fate awaits this particular Goldilocks.

Told you it got grisly. Image: Public domain

The bears soon realise something's afoot, exclaiming in convoluted lines things like: "Who's been tasting my good milk without leave of me?".

When they find Goldilocks ("half expiring with fear"), they try to burn her, try to drown her, then finally succeed in their assassination attempt, when they "chuck her aloft on St Paul's churchyard steeple." Pixar this ain't.

In a chilling addendum, Mure suggests the impaled body can still be seen on St Paul's today. Must've give little Horace terrible nightmares.

You can read Mure's beautifully illustrated version in full on the Toronto Public Library website. We originally came across this fact on the brilliant QI Facebook page.

Last Updated 22 June 2021