Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Doll who Came Alive - the story of a Dutch Doll in Cornwall

Written by Enys Tregarthen, edited by Elizabeth Yates and illustrated by Nora S. Unwin.

Jyd Trewerry is a little orphan girl living with her stepmother in a small harbour town in the west of Cornwall.  One bright spring morning a sailor comes to town. Under his arm is a present for his niece but unable to find her, he gives the present and a silver penny to Jyd.

Jyd opens the parcel and inside is a wooden doll with bright-red cheeks, black hair, and blue eyes. It is a very superior doll, beautifully made, and though not the usual kind known in England, Jyd thinks it the most wonderful doll she has ever seen.

"You tender dear, you elegant!" Jyd cries. "You are the beautifullest dollie I ever saw. I'm fine an' glad you belong to me. I'll love 'ee, dear, an' I'll love 'ee till you're alive like me." So saying, she hugs the doll and hugs it, kisses it and kisses it, and holds it close to her heart.

"I'll love 'ee, my lovely, forever and a day," Jyd croons over and over to the doll. One October morning, when the sky is a radiant blue and the sparrows are hopping cheerfully about in the gutter, the doll blinks its eyes and smiles. Jyd and Jane (for that is the dollies name) soon became the best of friends. Jane learns to walk and run and play games and soon wants to see more of the world.

Jyd thinks it would be wonderful to see more of the world, but first she must carry out the sailors wishes and use the silver penny to buy a new dress for the dolly. Leaving the doll at home she takes the coin from its hiding place and goes off to buy a frock. She stops to ask an old lady where the best dolls clothes can be found. “Little ladies get their dolls’ clothes made by Miss Orange Nankelly, who lives in the corner house in Trewindle Street,” replies the woman. “But I don’t know if she will condescend to make anything for a poor child like you.” 

"Perhaps she will when I tell her 'tis for a live doll an' that I've got a silver penny to pay for 'un." 

While Jyd is helping Jane try on the new clothes her stepmother rushes in and shouts “I came half an hour agone to find a bewitched doll sitting in my chair. Now I have come to order ‘ee to put her in the fire. I won’t have a bewitched doll in my house!”

Before the angry woman can say another word, Jyd and Jane are out of the house and away. 
This is where the adventure begins, but if I tell you any more I will spoil it ...

......................

... I can tell you it does have a happy ending!


This is such a pretty book - even the endpapers are adorable!

The British author and folklorist Enys Tregarthen (1851–1923) wrote children's stories based on legends of her native Cornwall. Born Nellie Sloggett on Dec. 29, 1851, in the tiny fishing village of Padstow, Cornwall, she suffered a devastating spinal illness at age 17 and was paralysed for the rest of her life. As a small girl, she loved to hear stories and legends, and began to write them down and tell them to the children who often came to visit her. This eventually led to the writing and publication of her first book, Daddy Longlegs under the pen-name Nellie Cornwall.  Later, she began to collect and recorded stories about the Cornish pixies and published much of her works in this category under her other pen-name of Enys Tregarthen.

The doll who came alive may well have been written in the late 1800s, but its first publication date is believed to be 1942. Elizabeth Yates, an American author, took on the job of sorting through Nellie’s papers and yellowing manuscripts, which is how this particularly story came to be published posthumously. 

The version shown here is a newer edition published in 1972.

Padstow Harbour, Cornwall, England

The Doll who came alive is now sold, thank you for your interest. 

26 comments:

  1. For this brief moment of reading and looking at the photos, I was the little girl again that still lives within me, but that society tells me I should no longer be. "BE GROWN UP", "ACT YOUR AGE" and other nonsense is what I have to live and should, as a member of society. But when I sit down in my quiet corner, I thoroughly enjoy and become a child again. What darling illustrations, an intriguing story, and a reminder that in all cultures, there are stories from which we are all born. Thank you Barbara for this wonderful moment! Anita

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  2. My kind of story Barbara. Love it! Wish you would of told me everything that happened. I'll have to remember this Enys Tregarthen and hope I'll have another chance to volunteer and teach reading again. I so miss the kids but stopped early this year due to our family matters.

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    1. Hello Eve, I did have a different post prepared that included the ending, but then I thought it might spoil it for some, so I started over again. I wish I had kept it now. I could have emailed it to you! :o)

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  3. This sounds like a great story. I was so wrapped up in it from the pictures and the text you shared with us! I am curious to know how it all turns out (but I am happy it ends well). :) I also found the history of the author fascinating. How interesting that this book wasn't published until after her death.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. My first attempt at this post did have the entire story, but I felt it was rather long. I was also a little afraid of giving the game away. Maybe I should do a second post? Thank you for your comment Stephanie, I appreciate it.

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  4. It sounds like a lovely read , I love the images too :)

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    1. Thanks Aunt Mary it really is a lovely book. Barbara.

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  5. Oh, this book sounds really wonderful!

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  6. What a delightfull book! I love the illustrations and the idea of the story. I think children today would love this story too. Now I want to visit Padstow Harbour some day as teh photo is so inviting.

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    1. Hello Darlene, I would certainly recommend a visit to Padstow, although I've not been for years so it may well have changed. We spent every summer holiday in Cornwall when I was a child, so I’ve always been a little in love with it. I'm glad you liked the story and illustrations.Barbara

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  7. Dolls are girls' best friends. I still remember loving and trusting them even more than I did with my sisters. This is such a darling story and I'm glad it is a happy ending!

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    1. Dolls are girls' best friends. Or in the words of the song – diamonds are a girl’s best friend – in my case it would have to be dogs are a girl's best friend, but I can understand why you would choose dolls. I have to say I loved all my dolls when I was a little girl, especially the one with the ‘growing’ hair. The problem is once it grew the only way to shorten it was to cut it off – which of course I did! :O)

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  8. Looks like a fascinating book Barbara. I've love the style of the illustrations. My favourite is the second one where you see the little girl from behind opening the parcel.

    The daddy longlegs you mentions must be a different one to the book I remember from long ago - I always thought that one was set in America and was written by someone else.

    You do manage to find the most fabulous books and I always love the background information you put together with them!

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    1. Hello Sharon, I think the title has been used a few times. I know it was the name of a book by Jean Webster, and I'm pretty sure she is American but there is someone else - I will have to think about that for a while.
      I love that illustration too. You can almost feel the excitement as Jyd sees what’s in the box.
      Thanks so much for your comment.

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  9. What a completely gorgeous book.
    I'm not surprised it sold so quickly : )

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    1. It did sell very quickly, but like you, I'm not surprised. Nice things usually do. Thank you for your comment Barbara

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  10. What a wonderful book ... I'm not at all surprised it sold. Are you going to tell us the end of the story now ... !?

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    1. Hello Jane, I am! It will be in the next post. Thanks for calling in.

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    2. Sorry Marina, I muddled up your name with your blog name.

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  11. This book sounds really wonderful, and I like the illustrations too :)

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    1. Thank you Hilde, I enjoyed sharing it.

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  12. What a fun book. Can you imagine if a doll came to life? What an adventure that would be.

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    1. Well, the little doll in this book certainly enjoyed an adventure. I’m going to do a follow up post about it next week. Thanks for your comment.

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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