Opie, Iona

Opie, Iona, 1923–2017, b. Iona Margaret Balfour Archibald, and Peter Mason Opie, 1918–1982, British folklorists of the rhymes, games, and songs of children's culture and literature. They met during World War II, married (1943), began collecting children's books and ephemera, and soon published a collection of traditional children's rhymes, I Saw Esau (1947; repr. 1992 illustrated by M. Sendak). The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (1951), their first major work, contains some 500 historically authenticated verses. The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (1959) and Children's Games in Street and Playground (1969) were based on interviews with children and revealed the customs and history of the society of children, perpetuated through songs, rhymes, and games. Iona continued their research and writing after Peter's death. Later books include The People in the Playground (1993), My Very First Mother Goose (1996), and Mother Goose's Little Treasures (2007). The Opie's huge collection of books and ephemera is housed at the Bodlieian Library, Oxford; their tape recordings relating to games and songs at the British Library.

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