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The Life of a Doll
1media/LifeOfADoll_thumb.jpg2020-06-29T14:52:43+00:00Marianne Hansene5c1491b9c20d37a95fc0356366eeb2ddecf682b181Valentine, Laura, attributed. The Life of a Doll. London: Frederick Warne & Co., c. 1865.plain2020-06-29T14:52:43+00:00Marianne Hansene5c1491b9c20d37a95fc0356366eeb2ddecf682b
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12020-04-27T18:15:33+00:00Doll Books12plain13622020-08-11T19:27:36+00:00olls are the archetypal toy for girls, and books about them were extremely popular. They take on a variety of roles in the stories, according to the demands of the narrative: stand-ins or models for their child-owners, practice infants and children for the mothers-to-be, playmates and comforting friends. Fashion dolls appear as aspirational figures, the cultured adult women their owners hoped to become. And as plot devices, dolls are used as prized possessions, sources of conflict, and loci of loss and mourning — just like real children.
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.