Category Archives: Robert Southey

Christopher Booker Joseph Cundall Robert Southey

The Goldilocks Principle

“This idea that the way forward lies in finding an exact middle path between opposites is of extraordinary importance in storytelling.”

English author Christopher Booker had this to say about The Story of the Three Bears. Or as Goldilocks would simply say, “just right.”

English Poet Robert Southey (1774 to 1843) was the first to tell The Story of the Three Bears in print — and in a kinder, gentler way than it had been told. While first versions depicted menacing bears, Southey’s were good-natured. Also, the first versions listed the many ways the bears tried to kill the ugly old woman who ate their milk (who later became Goldilocks who ate their porridge) until resorting to chucking her aloft on a church steeple. Not exactly a cozy family tale!

Years later, Joseph Cundall re-told the story, praising Southey’s version but changing the old woman to a pretty girl. Goldilocks had many names through the years including Little Silver Hair. To me it remains an odd tale with an uncertain interpretation. What do you think is the moral of the story?