F is for Doctor Fell


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The famous nursery rhyme “I do not like thee, Doctor Fell” was written by the satirist Tom Brown when he was a student at Oxford.

According to the legend, Brown was caught ‘doing mischief’ and his tutor, John Fell (later Bishop of Oxford) expelled him but offered to take him back if Brown could successfully translate a Latin epigram by Roman epigrammist Martial.

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John Fell

Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare;

Hoc tantum possum dicere, non amo te

Brown translated it thusly:

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,

The reason why – I cannot tell;

But this I know, and know full well,

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell

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The nursery rhyme was printed in Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes in 1926, and since then it has entered popular culture.

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Irish playwright Bernard Farrell used the opening line as the title of one of his plays.

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In Hannibal, escaped serial killer Hannibal Lecter uses the pseudonym Dr Fell while living in Florence.

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Doctor Meredtith Fell is a recurring character in Vampire Diaries

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The name is also used for a character in the animated series Generation Rex

Northern Irish singer Juliet Turner also used the nursery rhyme as a song title.

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