In the often printed, and enthusiastically translated, La Poupée Bien Élevée, published in the original French by 1818 and in English by 1819, the “well-bred” doll is shared by a pair of sisters. Their mother commands them to teach the doll manners and morals by both instruction and example, with the older girl pretending to be Mama and the younger speaking for the “daughter” doll.
The unnaturally virtuous Mary also takes care of her doll, putting it carefully to bed and teaching it to pray and to read.
Fanny’s fashion doll is a mechanical marvel: she can open and close her eyes, say Mamma and Papa, and even walk. The family’s trip to India, where the author, Laura Valentine had grown up, provides a brief glimpse of British colonialism.
The London Doll recounts her creation by a master doll maker; the disaster of falling into the fire only to be scraped clean, repainted, and re-clothed; her time in a Punch and Judy show; and many other extraordinary adventures.