Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes is a children's picture book by the British author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. It was first published in October 1917. It is an illustrated anthology of poetry. Unlike the majority of the poems in Beatrix Potter's 1922 poetry anthology Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes, all of those in Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes are original ones, written by Potter herself.
Beatrix Potter had long wanted to bring out an illustrated poetry anthology. She first suggested the idea to her publishers, Frederick Warne & Co, shortly after the publication of The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902. In 1904, Potter produced a dummy book to show what a published copy of Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes would look like. Potter received little encouragement from Frederick Warne & Co. regarding her idea for a poetry anthology. She was encouraged to write more prose stories instead. In 1917, Frederick Warne & Co. became mired in scandal when one of its senior staff members, Harold Warne, was found guilty of forgery and sentenced to eighteen months hard labor. It was decided that the best way to turn around the fortunes of Frederick Warne & Co. was to bring out a new book by Beatrix Potter, the company's most popular author, as soon as possible. Potter felt that she was unable to write a new story at such short notice. She suggested that a book be brought out that made use of publishable material from the dummy book of Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes instead. The idea was accepted.
Although it sold well when it was first published, Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes is generally not very highly regarded by critics today. As a collection of poems, it lacks unity. It is generally agreed that the illustrations in Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes are better than the poems which they accompany. Some critics, however, feel that the illustrations contribute to the book's lack of unity. The illustrations in Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes were produced over several years, from 1891 to 1913. In the earliest illustrations, Potter is aiming for photographic realism. In the later ones, her style is much more fluid, due in part to her failing eyesight. Some of the illustrations also suffer somewhat as a result of the format in which the book was published. Potter had originally wanted the book to be published in a larger format than was usual for her books. The publication of the book in the standard small format meant that some of the illustrations had to be reduced in size. As a result, some of the detail in those illustrations was lost.
Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes is made up of seven short poems.
The first poem is about a small brown mouse with bright eyes named Appley Dapply. Appley Dapply raids the kitchen cabinet in somebody's house for food.
The second poem concern's the courtship of Peter Rabbit's sister Cottontail by a little black rabbit.
The third poem is about a hedgehog named Old Mr. Pricklepin.
In the fourth poem, the narrator asks her readers if they remember the Mother Goose rhyme "There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe". The narrator says that, in order to have been able to have lived in a shoe, the old woman must have been a mouse.
The fifth poem is a limerick about a mole named Diggory Diggory Delvet who likes to dig.
The sixth poem is one in praise of potatoes and gravy. It is accompanied by a picture of a pig.
The seventh poem in the anthology is another limerick. It is about a guinea pig who dresses elegantly and who brushes his hair so that it looks like a periwig.
- In Beatrix Potter's 1912 book The Tale of Mr. Tod, Cottontail is said to have married a black rabbit.
- It has been suggested that the character of Diggory Diggory Delvet was influenced either by Moley in Kenneth Grahame's 1908 children's novel The Wind in the Willows or by the mole in Hans Christian Andersen's 1835 short story "Thumbelina".
- The illustration of a pig which accompanies the poem about potatoes and gravy is a modified version of one which appears in Beatrix Potter's 1913 book The Tale of Pigling Bland.