The Lonely Doll

ISBN: 0395899265
ISBN 13: 9780395899267
By: Dare Wright

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Childhood Favorites Children Children's Children's Books Childrens Favorites Fiction Kids Picture Books To Read

About this book

Once there was a little doll. Her name was Edith. She lived in a nice house and had everything she needed except someone to play with. She was lonely! Then one morning Edith looked into the garden and there stood two bears! Since it was first published in 1957, The Lonely Doll has established itself as a unique children's classic. Through innovative photography Dare Wright brings the world of dolls to life and entertains us with much more than just a story. Edith, the star of the show, is a doll from Wright's childhood, and Wright selected the bear family with the help of her brother. With simple poses and wonderful expressions, the cast of characters is vividly brought to life to tell a story of friendship.

Reader's Thoughts


Never read The Lonely Doll as a kid, somehow acquired a biography of Dare Wright (still unread), saw this displayed in the kiddie section at the library and snatched it up. I read it this morning because I needed to take it back to the library. This is a children's book that involves a story, told through photographs, of a doll who is desperate for friends until one day two bears mysteriously show up. There's a large bear who ends up being a father figure and a little bear who ends up being the doll's partner in crime. The text is simple and brief and the photographs are dreamy black-and-white shots.I think as a kid I would have thought it was just a cute story and been inspired to tell a similar story with my dolls, but as an adult I found it terribly sad and a little creepy. (And it would be creepy even without the oft-mentioned spanking scene.) It's pretty, though.


my thanks to boyd for answering my call for "more creepy doll books". it seems everyone knew about this but me. and its great! i got the two still in print, and will track down the rest. and while i was buying them, my cashier-friend commanded me to read the bio, which i will also do. this book is beautiful and sad and just so well-posed. theres a lot more conveyed than meets the eye at first glance. these photos need to be really examined, not just paged through. another book i am baffled that children are exposed to.


I think I'm missing something. This book may not have withstood the test of time. Maybe because this book was written the same year my Mom was born, I'm not going to understand the connection people have with it. It isn't that I'm offended by the spanking or that I disagree with the doll wanting to be a woman. I just don't understand. Is this house abandoned? If so, whose things are these? She lives alone, but she's just a little girl. Maybe she's agoraphobic, but then she wouldn't really be craving companions, would she.


A childhood favorite (I had a dress to match Edith's).No one could be prettier, kinder, more elegant or sadder than Edith, the lonely doll. Beautiful black and white photos and sprightly text make it easy to feel a kinship with Edith.Years later, I found the story behind the story in The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll by Jean Nathan. It's the story of Edith's creator, Dare Wright, a living lonely doll. She and her brother, both highly creative and talented, were victims of a repressive and suffocating mother. This biography tells the story of her inspiration for The Lonely Doll and the many books that followed it, as well as the surprising, sadly wounded creative spirit who gave Edith life.

Callie Rose Tyler

There is something off-putting and unintentionally creepy about this book and I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing. I love the element of photography instead of illustrations. I’m not sure if this is an ideal book for a child but I found it to be something different which is always fun. Personally it reminds me of old stop motion short films I used to watch as a small child.


This is the creepiest children's book I've ever seen! Complete with the little doll being spanked by Mr. Bear for being "naughty" and writing on her mirror that he is a "Silly Old Thing." I might bring it home and put in on display at my house for Halloween...except I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to sleep with this book in my house. This is one of those books that are so bad I actually kind of love it because I can't believe that it’s real. I just put the rest of the books that the library owns by this author on hold, I can't wait to see what's in store for the Lonely Doll next...


Fascinating and fun, especially when you still had a suspicion that dolls were alive anyway.


Just discovered this series at the local library, and it's a new favorite. My children love the charming b&w photos, and the story lines are simple and sweet.

Maria Mason

My favorite book as a chold


What I read of this book is true. It is a wonderfully imaginative children's book that will captivate children but it also has a slightly dark undercurrent that adults may recognize. The scenes are wonderful, and Edith the doll truly does seem to be alive in several of the images.


Dare Wright was one sick puppy (read her biography if you want to know why) and this book radiates perversion--but in the very best way. I never read it when I was a child, and coming to it a few years ago I was dumbfounded that the subtext apparently shot right past mid-century parents, legions of whom thought the book was just the ticket for their sensitive little daughters. But hey, *I'm* not running a kindergarten.The pink-gingham book jacket makes me think of sugar-frosted rat poison.


This is a book i loved as a wee babe. Its b&w photos of Dolls & Bears in a Real Person's house are eerie.They conjour the same anomalous feeling as the Star Trek episode when kirk, spock & bones find themselves in an uninhabited land. It's plastic and sterile and they can't find any natives. Just when the viewer decides the populace moved underground to flee a virus or ear-eating locust, an enormous hand comes out of the sky, like a macy's day parade balloon, and rearranges the furniture... they're in a huge alien child's doll house! Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not some baby's dolly!That has nothing to do with the story of Edith the doll. She's a spoiled brat with frilly underthings who has a plethera of material things but no friends to wreck them with! All of a sudden, one day, 2 bears appear... like magic. They frolic and have adventures and learn lessons. And, there's a hot spanking scene...

Sam Quixote

The Lonely Doll is one of the creepiest books I've ever read. That it's supposed to be a kid's book only makes it creepier.It's a 1950s book made up of black and white photos - that's right, no colour for you damn kids! - starring a disturbed, sad doll as two terrifying teddy bears, the youngest of whom is blank faced making him even more scary, and an adult bear, who has what can only be described as a crazy expression, move into the doll's house so she's no longer alone.The phrase "Just wait and see what fun we'll have!" uttered by the bears is one of the most haunting lines I've ever read.When the doll and the little bear behave like all kids (I assume the doll herself is supposed to be a kid - the alternative is that she's mentally handicapped. But then why is she allowed to live alone?), they are beaten by the adult bear. It's at this point that I began formulating my own plot about this book: the doll wants company and out of desperation (and probably a potent combo of liquor and prescription drugs) makes a bad decision and takes in a couple of transients who proceed to take over her house and hold her hostage.Later when the adult bear leaves, the doll and the little bear attempt to escape the house which they've now become prisoners in. They fail and wind up trying to have as much fun as they can before the crazy adult bear returns. The photo of when they're playing dress-up and the adult bear is in the background standing in the doorway with that expression on his face - that is straight up, 100% legit, horror. The adult bear then proceeds to beat them. Then later, in a case of Stockholm syndrome and/or cultish devotion, they believe they've done wrong and apologise to the adult bear for their non-transgressions!The fact that this book is presented with dead toys in chilling black and white photos with a chintzy dress pattern on the background cover, makes it even more disturbing to read. And if you look into the author Dare Wright's sad life where she had a domineering and insane mother and an allegedly incestuous relationship with her brother, the only man she could be close to, it just adds that extra layer of terror to the book.This is a kid's book that I wouldn't ever think in a million years to give to a kid - it's like reading a book a mental patient in Bellevue wrote which somehow got published and became a serial killer's bible. The photos, the story, it's all just nightmare fuel. This is the anti-Toy Story.Just wait and see what fun we'll have...


This is a book that needs two reviews. Review One: I have no childhood memories of this book. As such, I can only say that it is a decent enough story well enough written. Review Two: As I said earlier, I have no childhood memories of this book. I searched it out of curiosity after hearing it described on the podcast Pop My Culture. As a result, this is a book that I enjoy just knowing it out there in the world. It is well done enough to be more than just an odd book. Overall, a decent and welcome children's book to know it out there. I would also recommend Jean Nathan's book "The Secret Life of The Lonely Doll" a biography of the author. Reading the book after reading about Dare Wright's life makes the book itself a bit more interesting.


You know, if you read this at a surface level, it might seem innocent and pretty normal. However, underneath there's something creepy, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed that. The beautifully constructed photographs evoke in turn loneliness and subjugation, and the text itself tells us how Edith is so lonely, that she lets complete strangers inside the house and take over her life. Occasionally she seems to have fun, but then she gets spanked for doing a naughty thing. There's no one else in the world but them (and a couple of rude pigeons).Is the doll an adult or a child? She lives alone, so she must represent an adult. But then the spanking scene becomes kind of kinky and strange. If Edith is a child, then it's equally odd that she would just happen to let two bears enter into her life. What the hell? Then again, having heard a few things about Wright's life I suppose I couldn't have expected anything less. After reading the biography I'm probably going to be even more weirded out.Apparently, the interpretation of the story depends on the reader's background and age. For me, the pink covers are deceptive. Wright's world is sad and weird, but I think I like it just the way it is. Despite the length there's a lot of room for further examination on the next round of reading.PS. Oh great, now Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? popped into my head. I think I've had enough of dolls for a while. Then again, I also feel like throwing my own giant blank faced bear to the balcony. Jesus.PPS. To lighten the mood, here's a lovely Finnish animation about thin ice and a drowning bear:

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