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THE STORY of LIVE DOLLS by Josephine Scribner Gates

This is from a story book my mom gave to me that her mother had given to her. It was originally published in 1901. It scarred me for life:

One day the children of the village find posters plastered all over town: “NOTICE: On the morning of June the Fourth all the dolls in the village of Cloverdale will come alive!” (Oh God, nooooo!) All the children are very excited. The next day, Janie, the protagonist, wakes to find her “Miss Dollie” quite alive and, if I may, aggressively affectionate. Janie and the children of the village have a lovely morning with their dolls. Here is where the story gets F*CKED-UP… The children discover “Doll Farm” where the Queen of Dolls lives and cares for all the dollies of the land when they come to life every summer for a day. In a special room in Doll Farm is “Doll Hospital” where dolls that have been mangled and neglected writhe in agony and wait for the Queen to mend them. Unfortunately, dolls with no eyes must remain blind, the dolls with no legs will never walk, and the poor little dollie they found buried behind the potter’s shed is dead and there is nothing the Queen can do. The children are naturally very upset to see the dolls suffering and feel quite ashamed to have mistreated them so, but the dolls forgive them and they all spend a lovely day together at the seashore. (All except for the dead one.)

Posted by: on April 1st, 2009 | Tagged with: , | Comments (4)
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  • Cody
    11:35 am on
    April 2, 2009

    Looks like it was illustrated by henry darger. Creepy.


  • Susan
    2:47 pm on
    August 9, 2009

    The original book illustrations, copyright 1901, were by Virginla Keep and look nothing like the “ring-around-the-rosy” illustration posted by Ashleigh. I have a first edition passed on to me by my mother, and it was one of my favorite books as a young child. There is absolutely nothing creepy about it.


  • Ashleigh
    11:23 am on
    August 17, 2009

    Interesting! Thanks for the info! The story I have is from a special “Home and Gardens” storybook they published for children. I’ll have to check out the illustrations you mentioned. I wonder if the story is different as well. I have to admit that I would probably still find it creepy. As a kid I was very afraid of the china doll collection I inherited from my grandma.


  • ingrid
    7:16 pm on
    January 15, 2010

    Thank you. I had a vague memory of this and went searching down many false roads before finding your site. I, too, found it very CREEPY…and still do.


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