You may not know the name, but you’ll most definitely know the rhyme
Jane Taylor spent a formative childhood in Lavenham way back at the end of the 18th Century, but her writing lives on to the present day, and whilst you probably won’t know her name, you’ll certainly have heard of her most famous poem and nursery rhyme: ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’.
If we learn one nursery rhyme as a child it’s probably that one, passed down through the generations and into legend countless times in a multitude of languages worldwide. It’s formal title is The Star, and it’s thought to have been inspired by the Taylor family’s time at Shilling Old Grange in Lavenham.
Jane and her siblings were educated at home by their parents, and Jane, having been taught astronomy, would stare at the night sky from the window of the room she shared with her sister Ann.
First published in an anthology of poems written by Jane and Ann in 1806, the book was an instant hit. It established the sisters as leading authors of poems and verse, especially when it was turned into the lullaby we all know and love using a simple, yet unforgettable tune; possibly originating from Mozart, although Mozart himself is thought to have plagiarised it from a much earlier folk song.
The success of the poem came as something of a surprise to their parents who conceded that the sisters could be allowed to spend more time writing as long as their domestic duties did not suffer, their mother believing that the home was the proper place for women, who were ‘not supposed to go out in the world’.
Jane went on to write numerous books and poems, mostly featuring ordinary children in rural settings but sadly died when she was only 40.
We're taking a closer look at Jane and her life with a new exhibition at the Guildhall, do come along and find out more about the women who inspired generations of bedtime lullabies.