Little Donkey

Little Donkey is a popular Christmas carol, written by British songwriter Eric Boswell in 1959, which describes the journey by Mary the mother of Jesus to Bethlehem on the donkey of the title.[1]

Cover of original 1959 edition of sheet music of Little Donkey

The first version to chart was by Gracie Fields, followed a fortnight later by The Beverley Sisters, who overtook her in the charts by Christmas. The song became No. 1 in the UK Sheet Music Chart[2] from mid November 1959 until the end of the year, and a recording by Nina & Frederik reached No. 3 the following Christmas.[3][4]

The song has also been recorded by Vera Lynn, Aled Jones[5] and many others, and it is a traditional part of the festive season and nativity plays for many young children.

In the 21st century the song has become something of a signifier of childhood Christmas in popular culture having featured in the comedy acts of Alan Carr, Russell Brand and especially in The Ricky Gervais Show which featured a running gag about Karl Pilkington's drum performance of the song.[6]


  1. ^ John, J. (2005). A Christmas Compendium. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-8264-8749-0. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
  2. ^ "Number Ones The 1950s (Sheet Music Sales)". SIXTY YEARS OF BRITISH NUMBER ONES. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  3. ^ "OFFICIAL SINGLES CHART RESULTS MATCHING: LITTLE DONKEY". Official Charts. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  4. ^ "8 December 1960 UK Singles Charts".
  5. ^ Jones, Aled (2010). Aled Jones' Favourite Christmas Carols. Random House. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-4090-5110-7. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  6. ^ "Pilkipedia - Little Donkey".