Common versions of the nursery rhyme include:
- Tweedledum and Tweedledee
- Agreed to have a battle;
- For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
- Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
- Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
- As black as a tar-barrel;
- Which frightened both the heroes so,
- They quite forgot their quarrel.
The words "Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee" make their first appearance in print in "one of the most celebrated and most frequently quoted (and sometimes misquoted) epigrams", satirising the disagreements between George Frideric Handel and Giovanni Bononcini, written by John Byrom (1692–1763):
- Some say, compar'd to Bononcini
- That Mynheer Handel's but a Ninny
- Others aver, that he to Handel
- Is scarcely fit to hold a Candle
- Strange all this Difference should be
- 'Twixt Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee!
Although Byrom is clearly the author of the epigram, the last two lines have also been attributed to Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope. While the familiar form of the rhyme was not printed until around 1805, when it appeared in Original Ditties for the Nursery, it is possible that Byrom was drawing on an existing rhyme.
Lewis Carroll and John Tenniel
The characters are perhaps best known from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice Found There (1871). Carroll, having introduced two fat little men named Tweedledum and Tweedledee, quotes the nursery rhyme, which the two brothers then go on to enact. They agree to have a battle, but never have one. When they see a monstrous black crow swooping down, they take to their heels. The Tweedle brothers never contradict each other, even when one of them, according to the rhyme, "agrees to have a battle". Rather, they complement each other's words. This fact has led Tenniel to assume that they are twins, and Gardner goes so far as to claim that Carroll intended them to be enantiomorphs — three-dimensional mirror images. Evidence for these assumptions cannot be found in any of Lewis Carroll's writings.
|Main Characters||Alice's Adventures in Wonderland||Alice - White Rabbit - Mouse - Dodo - Duck - The Lory - Eaglet - Pat - Bill - Puppy - The Caterpillar - Duchess - Cheshire Cat - March Hare - The Hatter - Dormouse - Queen of Hearts - King of Queens - Knave of Hearts - Gryphon - Mock Turtle|
|Through the Looking-Glass||Alice - Red Queen - White Queen - Red King - White King - White Knight - Tweedledum and Tweedledee - The Sheep - Humpty Dumpty - Haigha - Hatta - The Lion and the Unicorn - Bandersnatch - Jubjub bird|
|Minor Characters||Alice's Adventures in Wonderland||Alice's sister - Dinah - The Duchess' Cook - Executioner - Fish Footman - Frog Frootman - Pig Baby - The Playing Cards|
|Through the Looking-Glass||Snowdrop - Kitty - Red Knight - Live Flowers - Aged Man - Rocking Horse Fly - Bread and Butterfly - Snap-Dragonfly - The White Horse|