When I Am An Old Woman.com welcomes you to learn about the popular poem Warning, by Jenny Joseph.
"Warning, When I Am An Old Woman" Large Gift Card ©Jenny Joseph. Licensed to Elizabeth Lucas Designs
Lighthearted fun . . .
"Warning, When I Am An Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple" has become a global phenomenon! Elizabeth Lucas has published her calligraphic version of the poem nationally since 1984. This delightful poem that speaks of growing old in a wonderfully outrageous style was written in 1961 by Jenny Joseph who lives in Minchinhampton, England. The poem is popularly known by many titles including, of course, the actual title "Warning", as well as by "When I Am An Old Woman", "The Purple Poem", "Old Woman", "I Shall Wear Purple", simply "Purple" and by other affectionate names. It is cherished by thousands of women throughout the world and practically everyone who enjoys its light humor wants to know more about its meaning and to learn about the author, Jenny Joseph. Because of copyright restrictions and a specific request from the author, we are unable to publish the entire poem on this web site. Following is an adapted version of the poem so you can get an idea of what it is about. You may purchase copies of the complete poem by going to our web site listed below.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens . . .

The ending of the poem pleases its readers when the woman says . . .

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.


The widespread acknowledged use of the poem in America started in the 1980's. Elizabeth Lucas was first granted exclusive publishing rights to the copyrighted poem "When I Am An Old Woman" for greeting cards in 1984. Then Liz Carpenter, who had been Lady Bird Johnson's press officer, wrote an article for the "Texas Monthly" in March 1985. It was picked up by the Reader's Digest and they acknowledged the author Jenny Joseph. From there its fame increased rapidly. Since those early years, the Elizabeth Lucas Designs "When I Am An Old Woman" product line has expanded to include prints, tee shirts, sweat shirts, purple tote bags, framed quotations, plaques, magnets, decorative boxed note cards, snack trays and other gift products all featuring the entire poem. Well over two million copies of Elizabeth's original Large Gift Card have been sold. Please call us for if you want more information at 1-800-535-8227.

On one of Jenny Joseph's trips to California to meet with Elizabeth Lucas, she was also invited to take part in Long Beach's Literary Women's Day and Jenny was honored for her poem as well as for being the first writer from abroad. On that occasion she met Sandra Martz, who contacted Jenny about using "Warning" as the front poem, its first line the title, of an anthology on aging. Publishing of this anthology caused an additional interest in Lucas's extremely popular cards helping "Warning" gain an ever-increasing number of fans. Over the years, interest in the poem has spread throughout the United States and the world.

Many women's groups have been formed based on the theme of the poem. Over the years ladies have visited Elizabeth Lucas Designs dressed up in purple with red hats. Elizabeth has had special events at her office during the last twenty years, including signings by Jenny Joseph. Lots of women have sent her photos of their groups wearing purple. Some have even put on plays about the poem and others have written related poetry or stories about getting older. All of this has been in the spirit of good fun!

If you are looking for copies of the complete poem, we invite you to order cards and gifts from our on-line store. You'll be glad you did!
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"When I Am An Old Woman" is now available on Canvas Tote Bags and 100% cotton, purple or white tee shirts. You may order them at 1-800-535-8227. Sizes available are S, M, L, XL, XXL and XXXL.

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Set Of Six Cut-Out Shaped Red Hat Acrylic Magnets Available At www.ElizabethLucasDesigns.com ©Elizabeth Lucas Designs 2003
Enjoy Life!