Jyd Trewerry is a little orphan girl living with her stepmother in a small harbour town in the west of
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
"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!
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.