The rhyme first appeared in print in 1805, in a book titled Songs for the Nursery. Like many such rhymes, its origins are unclear. Some claim it was written by Dr Thomas Muffet (d. 1604), an English physician and entomologist, regarding his stepdaughter Patience; others claim it refers to Mary, Queen of Scots (1543–87), who was said to have been frightened by religious reformer John Knox (1510–72). The first explanation is speculative, and the latter is doubted by most literary scholars, who note that stories linking folk tales or songs to political events are often urban legends. Several novels and films, including the Alex Cross novel Along Came a Spider (1993) and its eponymous 2001 film adaptation, take their titles from the poem’s crucial line.