The Lonely Doll

ISBN: 0395899265
ISBN 13: 9780395899267
By: Dare Wright

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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

Lisa Vegan

This one disturbed me when I was a child, although the pictures were amazing.

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...

KiKi L'Italien

My daughter's middle name is Dare in honor of this woman. Her books are beautiful, surreal, dark, and lovely. Even when I was a child, I knew there was something a little sad and scary about them. But they were also lovely to look at and I was intrigued by Edith and scared for her. My daughter's room is decorated with black and white images taken from the Lonely Doll. It is rare that I meet anyone who is familiar with her books, but I feel almost like I'm part of some underground society when I do.

Shonna Froebel

I had heard the book The Lonely Doll mentioned in a discussion of children's books that people found creepy and decided that I had to see for myself. Then I found that there were a whole series of these books, all around Edith, the Lonely Doll. I ordered some to see what they were like.The stories in these picture books are simple, told in short text with large black and white photographs of the doll and other characters posed in situations, acting out the story. They are quite different, and I didn't find them creepy at all. The first book was originally published in 1957, and that explains the only action in the book that I thought might be an issue, when the doll and her friend Little Bear get spanked after doing something naughty. Given the time period, spanking was quite acceptable as a punishment, although it no longer is. Generally though these books teach lessons by experience, and one sees real affection between the characters. I found them very engaging.The author had a career as a fashion model before becoming a photographer, and I found the fact that she was born in Canada another interesting tidbit.


I got this in the mail rather unexpectedly from a dear friend we call Rockstar for a reason. I had never heard of the Lonely Doll phenomenon, so I came to this book as a (sort-of) adult. Holy crap, creepy photos! A doll that looks like a sexy little girl! Home alone dress up! SPANKINGS! Yeppers, this was pretty awesome in an I-can't-believe-this-is-a-real-book way. And the pictures are eerily beautiful. I would walk a mile to see these photos in a gallery. Minus one for some awkward writing...but wow oh wow oh wow. Now I want all the Dare Wright books.


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.


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...


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.


Hmmm... 5 stars for originality, 1 star for creepy factor. Now, my children didn't pick up on it, but I was a wee bit troubled when Mr. Bear spanks the doll for being naughty. He is kind of the father figure in the book, I suppose, but he's only ever called her "friend." So that kind of weirded me out. Anyone else?This book came recommended from a source I trust, but this was not what I was expecting. I like the idea of taking pictures of dolls and inventing a story around them, but this is hardly the only (or best) representation of that type of illustration. Nancy Willard's The Magic Cornfield does just that; it's absurd, but not disturbing.


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.


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.

Lise Petrauskas

I both loved this book and found it creepy. I don't know if the creepiness was what appealed to me, actually. I read a feature on Dare Wright in Tin House years ago that confirmed that she was herself lonely and a bit odd. This is in that category of books that were very influential but about which I have mixed feelings. The photographs themselves and the doll (why are certain dolls creepy?) are well done and very innovative. I have always responded to children's books that are illustrated with photographs of toys, dolls, live animals and people. They have been a big inspiration for my own photography and illustration.


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...


I had this book as a child -- still own it as a matter of fact. I had the doll as well. I was looking for a new copy for my granddaughter when I ran across some rather surprising reviews. Seems the general consensus is that the author, Dare Wright, had a troubled childhood and it is reflected in her books. I guess when viewed from todays pc society, the books don't fit into what is right for "today's" kids -- I mean there is an instance of the father bear spanking the little bear when he disobeyed and of "Edith" begging for forgiveness promising to "do anything he wanted" just to not be left. I loved this book as a child and I read it to my children. It must not have affected my daughter because she doesn't even remember it! It was wirtten in 1957 and back then, children got spanked. And, did any of them ever cry and say they would do anything just don't take the toy away, put me in timeout, whatever? I think most of the reviews are just being over analytical and trying to put a human spin on what is obviously a fictional children's book -- it is after all, a doll and a couple of stuffed bears -- ok, one is a Stieff but still. I won't buy the book for my granddaughter but I think it is a shame -- it is a cute book. Plus, after perusing the children's section of my local bookshop I have to say that "today's" children's books are really not good. Plus, I found an awful lot of books involving subject matter that I would have nixed for my 70's children!


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.

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