The Renowned History of Little Goody Two-Shoes. Commonly called, Old Goody Two-Shoes. (No mention of drinking or smoking.)
October 14, 2011 12:46 PM   Subscribe

The term is common enough: Goody Two-Shoes, one who is possibly too good and too nice (Google books). But the original children's tale is worth a read, if nothing else to appreciate the hard life of the original (fictional) little Goody Two-Shoes. Here is a facsimile reproduction of the 1766 edition, with an introduction giving some account of the book and some speculations as to it's authorship (Google books scan of an 1882 publication). More versions and tangents inside.

The authorship of Little Goody Two-Shoes is commonly attributed to John Newbery, a publisher who also is credited with publishing the first children's book in 1744, with A Pretty Little Pocket-Book (complete book on Wikisource; also available as a scanned book from the Library of Congress, from their digital collection of rather old children's books).

The original publication of Little Goody Two-Shoes was in 1765, and a number of editions would follow, a number of which are online in full: 1768 edition at the Rare Book Room, where you can find more information on the short story (Google quickview of the original PDF); the Internet Archive has a few more editions, including this sixpence edition, circa 1830, this one penny edition, circa 1820, which gives Mrs. Two Shoes the additional title of Governess of A. B. C. College, and pairs the story with the Rhyming Alphabet; or Tom Thumb's Delight, and this 1888 edition with full color plates, put in such an order as to spoil some moments of the very short story.

According to the additional information (PDF) on the Rare Book Room, there were a series of spin-offs from the original Little Goody Two-Shoes story, including The Orphan, or the Renowned History of little Gaffer Two-Shoes, a tale of Tommy Two Shoes, who is largely ignored in the Little Goody Two-Shoes story.
posted by filthy light thief (15 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Huh, so hearing about the story has at least cleared up my biggest question about the phrase, namely that two shoes is a perfectly normal number of shoes to have, so why bring it up?

I had similar problems when a friend tried to nickname my roommate "Timmy Two Hands" with the justification that "he's got two hands."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:50 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

And if that particular song popped into your head while reading all this, here's Adam Ant in 1982, backed up with dancing furniture. If that wasn't the video you were thinking of, how about a completely different set-up, or a live clip?
posted by filthy light thief at 12:50 PM on October 14, 2011 [7 favorites]

You're Good Ash, and I'm Bad Ash...
posted by stenseng at 1:21 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

So it's Goody, as in Goodewife, or Mrs.?
posted by loriginedumonde at 1:38 PM on October 14, 2011

It's interesting that the phrase seems to have had a completely different meaning originally. From the wikipedia article:

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.

Implying that she's spoiled because she's well off.
posted by LN at 1:39 PM on October 14, 2011

Great post!

The 1888 version is rather disturbing. Synopsis:

Farmer Meanwell is bankrupted by crop failure and chased off his farm by his bankers Gripe and Graspall. Meanwell and his wife die die heartbroken. Their two orphan children have rich relatives who would rather see them starve than acknowledge their existence. A benefactor ("Mr. Smith," clearly a pseudonym) gives the orphans food and clothes but kidnaps the boy-child "to make him a sailor." Alone and insane with grief, the girl child wanders the streets screaming "Two shoes! Two shoes!" She clings to that small bit of good fortune because it's the only good thing in her miserable life.

She ends up couch surfing, drifting from cottage to cottage and making a living for herself as a tutor. She whittles some Scrabble tiles and uses them to teach other children how to spell. (apparently Smith had taught Goody to read, who knows at what price). Eventually she grows up to be the town's official schoolteacher. Good for her. Well, not really...

She is so outstandingly morally good that she is accused of witchcraft. She avoids getting burned at the stake, but "Jones" begins stalking her after the trial. He baits her into his house by offering her suspiciously large sums of money (what kind of tutoring does she do for these large sums of money?). Once inside, Jones will not let her leave. Goody is dragged to the chapel, where she slips in and out of consciousness (drugged?). Her brother reappears and tries to stop this marriage by abduction. He fails. Jones marries Goody, and over time, Stockholm syndrome kicks in. Goody dies happy in her marriage -- a happy ending?

As far as I can tell Goody-Two Shoes is not a Goody-Two Shoes. She narcs on some thieves who were going to kill Squire Trueman and interferes with some people who are being cruel to animals, but that looks more like basic human decency than sucking up to anyone.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:41 PM on October 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

You don't drink, don't smoke... what do you do?

I ask this question of every neo-puritan I meet. I answer for them, too. That usually goes down well. Which is more than they do.
posted by Decani at 1:49 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

my biggest question about the phrase, namely that two shoes is a perfectly normal number of shoes to have, so why bring it up?

This is why One-Face is not an intimidating concept for a super villain.

(oh comics, when will your characters enter the public domain so that competent authors can publish stories about them?)
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:50 PM on October 14, 2011

justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow, you missed the parts between teaching children with wooden letters and the accusation of witchcraft where she taught two birds to read, one of them to speak, to name a few of her animal companions.

It's a weird story, and a short one, because it's for the kids. Except some editions are longer, and less kid-friendly. Go figure.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:07 PM on October 14, 2011

Bulgaroktonos: “Huh, so hearing about the story has at least cleared up my biggest question about the phrase, namely that two shoes is a perfectly normal number of shoes to have, so why bring it up?”

Actually, that doesn't clear it up at all. The linked Wikipedia article goes on to point out that the phrase was apparently already in use, as it appears in a poem a hundred years earlier in 1670. So we still have no idea where it came from.
posted by koeselitz at 2:11 PM on October 14, 2011

Don't drink? Don't smoke?

What do you do?!?
posted by bpm140 at 2:20 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Subtle innuendos follow, there must be something insideā€¦ << Better line.
posted by Webbster at 2:25 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

What! Amazing. Two weeks ago I was camping with some friends and we ate some mushrooms and we were sitting by a beautiful lake in the Oregon woods and someone called someone a 'goody two-shoes' and then ensued a long high-on-shrooms conversation about WhereTheFuck that term came from.

Debate settled. I will be forwarding this along.
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:48 PM on October 14, 2011

LN: It's interesting that the phrase seems to have had a completely different meaning originally.

Here's the whole poem (linking to a search for "goody two shoes"), if you'd like to try and parse the 1670 language. The specific phrase is pretty far into the poem.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:03 PM on October 14, 2011

Obvious, isn't it? "Goody" was a short-hand form of "Good-wife". A married woman of the village. The two-shoes, is referring to two PAIRS of shoes. The other women in the village are jealous of her; she has TWO pairs of shoes, not just one.
posted by Ted Walther at 2:10 PM on October 15, 2011

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