This song was adapted, possibly by Frank J. Green in 1869, as "Ten Little Niggers" and became a standard of the blackface minstrel shows. It was sung by Christy's Minstrels and became widely known in Europe, where it was used by Agatha Christie in her novel of the same name. The novel was later retitled And Then There Were None (1939), and remains one of her most famous works, about ten killings on a remote island.
The following version of the song was included in the first film version of And Then There Were None (1945), which largely took Green's lyrics and replaced the already sensitive word "nigger" with "indian" (in some versions "soldiers"):
Ten little Indian boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.
Daemon Hall by Andrew Nance uses an adapted version of Ten Little Indians; each of the contestants is disqualified in a manner described in the beginning of the book. No one, unlike the song, is killed, and there are five contestants rather than ten. The song is also mentioned by several characters throughout the novel.
In the television series The Walking Dead, a dwindling group is referred to as "Ten Little Indians".
In England's Mickey Mouse Annual No. 6, the song was adapted into the comic "10 Little Mickey Kids", which is considered to possibly be the most violent Disney Comic ever. It depicted 10 little mouse babies who meet an unfortunate end until there are only two left.
^ abI. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 333-4.
^P. V. Bohlman and O. Holzapfel, The folk songs of Ashkenaz (A-R Editions, 2001), p. 34.
^A. Light, Forever England: femininity, literature, and conservatism between the wars (London: Routledge, 1991), p. 243.
^A. Christie, Ten Little Indians (New York: Pocket Books, 1964).
^R. Riley, P. McAllister, J. Symonsm B. Cassiday., The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Agatha Christie (Continuum, 2001), pp. 144-5.