Hitty - Her First Hundred Years
Have you ever read the charming story of Hitty – Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field? Before I give you my review, however, may I show you my doll?
It is an antique doll. She wears her original hand sewn muslin gown, has a petticoat and pantalettes edged in cotton lace.
I was quite surprised and delighted the day I received her as a housewarming gift. She is the same doll, with the sweet face, that I had regularly admired on the shelf of one of my sister-in-law’s glass display cabinets. My sister-in-law is a doll collector. She buys and sells. I never dreamed that the plain, early American looking doll with the sweet face, would one day be presented to me.
I’ve named her Helen after my great-grandmother. Helen’s hair is of flax and was skillfully refurbished by my sister-in-law’s steady hand. Helen wears her long hair like Dora does in my stories.
Decorating this post are a few of the dolls from my sister-in-law’s collection. (She wishes to be unnamed.) Her dolls are dressed in a fashion that matches their lavish Victorian beginnings.
Not long ago I read the children’s book, Hitty – Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field. (You might have spotted it in the basket of a February post.) My daughters read it silently in their girlhood. I never had. I liked the story so much I wrote a review of it for Christian Book Distributors. Here is a sneak preview.
Hitty, unlike the dolls you see here, is whittled out of mountain-ash wood by a peddler in Maine sometime during early 19th century. The story is her autobiography. But a girl doesn’t have to have a special interest in dolls to be enthralled by Hitty. Her adventures are what she will find so interesting. And there are a lot of them. Settings change dramatically.
Near the beginning of her doll’s life she is carried aboard a whaling vessel in the arms of the daughter of the sea caption, is shipwrecked, marooned on a south sea island, recovered, then dropped for lost in India, picked up by a snake charmer and purchased by a missionary family. (Phew.) She returns to America, lives with Quakers in Philadelphia (where this time her new dress is gray) and meets John Greenleaf Whittier during the War Between the States. After being forgotten in a dark attic stuffed between the cushions of an old sofa, she is shipped to New York City with the furniture. Here, in the arms of another little girl she meets Charles Dickens on the streets of New York.
With suspense the story continues as Hitty is stolen, hidden away, given away and thrown away. Yet amid her tumbles and travels she is always happy when admired and when a new dress lovingly takes the place of an older shabby one.
Written in 1929 before the popularity of television author Rachel Field does a beautiful job describing the geographical and historical settings in words . . the words of a doll who takes courage, even when she doesn’t feel so brave, in life’s uncertain circumstances.
Newberry Award Winner for ages 10 up.
Gail Wilson Designs of New Hampshire makes a replica of the little doll Hitty for sale. Early American clothes, furniture, even a tiny cross stitch sampler for Hitty, are also available, as are kits.
The wild blackberry brambles are blooming at the edge of our woods. This was my cue to photograph Lessons at Blackberry Inn amidst a setting of white blackberry flowers. Being pricked by a thorn I still managed to take a somewhat interesting picture.
I hope with home school lessons coming to a close that you will set aside a little leisure for yourself, to read whatever interests you. I trust it will be something refreshing to grow-by. I like to hear what you are reading.
Thanks for visiting,