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


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.


I was reading this story book because I learned of the biography of the author, Dare Wright, by Jean Nathan. The biography suggests that the story book series reflects a sinister, sexual tone because in nearly every photo frame one can see the doll's underwear, and because in one scene the doll is being spanked. I read the book for the first time now, as an adult, with the biographer's idea lodged in my brain, but I have to admit I do not see any sinister, sexual overtones that would be apparent to a child. I think a child would understand and enjoy the book and come away unscathed or permanently damaged by seeing the doll's underwear. It is much more painful for me to think of Dare Wright, the author of the series, spending the time to get the underwear display just right. Children won't be damaged, but Dare may have been.


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.


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

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.


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.


This was another book in a box from my sister. I almost just logged this and put it in a pile. But I looked through and then read it. This was a wonderful story! I really like the simplicity of it all. Nowadays, I imagine this would be seen as too simple, but it works. It's a good story!A doll is lonely. Along come two bears and the adventures begin. I really like that the photographs. While we have all seen books that use real photos, this is the only one I recall from the 1950s. This book proceeded its time in that regard.A fun little story.

Lisa Vegan

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


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:


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.

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.


I re-read the Lonely Doll series recently. It was not possible to get all the books through my local library, so I dug out my childhood set to page through. Then I thought...perhaps I should purchase a set for my local library? YOWCH!Just an aside: The little girl next door loves the stories, too. Despite criticism by contemporary adult reviewers, the series still has appeal...


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...


how many of you were sucked into Dare Wright's world as a child? What a world! Black and white photographs of a doll stepping into an old abandoned house, meeting a friendly old turtle, riding on his back to the outside, befriending 2 teddy bears, a nice one and a grumpy one point she takes off her clothes and they dress her in fern leaves...what a world. Beautiful and mysterious and a bit kinky. I think we should start a Dare Wright Club and call it Under the Influence. I know her own life was sheltered and sad and under the shadow of her mother who treated her like a doll... there's a biography out now I've read a long excerpt of. note: the edition I read (and still have) was not pink...but black and white and grey and rather imposing.

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.

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