Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Little Donkey Man Dies Fifty Years On

Eric Boswell, the schoolmaster who wrote a Christmas song often believed today to be traditional, died recently.

Born Eric Simpson in Sunderland in 1921, he wrote "Little Donkey" in 1959, imagining a little donkey carrying the pregnant Mary to Bethlehem. It became a hit for Gracie Fields, the Beverley Sisters and Nina and Frederik, and many years later for Patti Page.

He took the name Boswell from the address in Chelmsford where he lived while working for Marconi, Boswells Drive.

The day before I heard the news of Eric`s death, I had been talking about him and his famous song during my Guided Walk "Ding Dong Merrily on High", which looks at the background to everybody`s favourite Christmas carols. I was pointing out that the song`s release was now fifty years ago.

Eric Boswell was 88.