Today's parents are increasingly replacing nursery rhymes with the latest pop songs, and fairy tales - now thought too scary for little ones - with cute stories about farmyard animals and talking trains. Until recently, weird tales of fairy curses and flesh-eating ogres were considered suitable bedtime reading. And the strange-sounding and sometimes violent rhymes we rhymed off by rote were often taught to us in school. But have you ever asked yourself what on earth were they about? And what exactly were the morals and lessons we were meant to learn from them? Here Comes a Chopper to Chop Off Your Head delves into the origins of the best-known rhymes and tales to uncover a legacy of folk superstition, rotten royal families, execution, child marriage, cannibalism, and the multitude of other random acts of cruelty that make up any classic treasury. You'll learn about the bloody history of Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary; why Margery Daw, the subject of an innocent-seeming seesaw game, was accused of being a 'dirty slut'; and how pretending to decapitate your little friends to the tune of Oranges and Lemons became an acceptable pastime. You'll also find out about the terrifying events that befell the first Sleeping Beauty when she finally woke up; how Snow White's stepmother really died; and just who the wolf was in Little Red Riding Hood.