500-year-old etiquette book advises children to “don’t pick noses”

Some parents may be tired of reminding their children not to pick their noses,media CNET reported. Parents in the 15th century faced the same struggle to keep their children in good manners. The 500-year-old book Lytille Children’s Lytil Boke aims to teach proper etiquette to children in British royal or aristocratic families. For the first time, the British Library’s new website has been digitised.

The manuscript was written in Middle English around 1480. One of the rules reads: “Pyke notte thyne nerrys nothyr thy nostrellys” (don’t dig your ears or pick your nose); another reads: “Spette not ovyr thy tabylle” (don’t spit on the table); and “Bul Bul le not as a bene were in thi thi throote ” (don’t hiccup when there are beans in your throat).

This behaviour guide, also known as etiquette books, was common in parts of Europe from the 13th to the 18th centuries. The author of Lytille Children’s Lytil Boke links etiquette not only to social status, but also to religion. The British Library’s new website, Discover children’s books, explores the history and diversity of children’s books. It covers centuries of stories, poems and original illustrations.

Of the more than 100 treasures, two of the wax tablets dating back about 2,000 years were once tied to a rope as part of a Greek book of work. The teacher’s handwriting can be seen being cut into the black wax at the top. Other works include a spelling introduction to Dublin in 1799, an 1826 collection of abolitionist poems for children, and a collection of short stories written by the principal of the Bronte sisters around 1829.

This free online resource was created in collaboration with the Seven Levels Children’s Book Centre at Newcastle University, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University and the Victoria and Albert Museum.