Home  / DH772.14, 2019.1.14

Stockinette and fabric figurine of Miss Havisham

Collection

object

Object number (per part)

DH772.14, 2019.1.14

Object name (per part)

ornament

Production person

Russell, E.

Production date

1968

Label

This doll or cloth figurine is of Miss Havisham from ‘Great Expectations’ and was hand made by Edith Russell. It was purchased in 1968 from Charlotte Studios in Broadstairs by Mr G. M. Millard-Thompson. Highly detailed, with a painted-on face and hairstyle made of real hair, this is an example of an 'art doll' rather than a 'play doll' that illustrates a trend for Dickensian characters as domestic, ornamental pieces. It is one of 14 dolls donated to the Museum in 2019 in memory of Millard-Thompson by his family, from seven of Dickens’s novels: ‘Bleak House’, ‘David Copperfield’, ‘Great Expectations’, ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Pickwick Papers’, and ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’. Millard-Thompson’s daughters recollected, “One rainy grey day, circa 1968, after a family visit to Bleak House we all ambled into Charlotte Studios - our idea of ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’, 10 Charlotte St, Broadstairs, Kent (still there today as the Broadstairs Gallery) and my father, a scientist not prone to bouts of indulgent shopping, was captivated by the dolls, the detail, the fabrics, the way each one was handmade bringing the characters to life and he bought out the entire stock (or so it seemed to us)”.

Physical description

This doll/figurine is handmade of cloth with a painted cloth face and real hair, standing on a wooden base. On the underside is an inscription and stamp.

Object history note

This is one of 14 dolls donated to the Museum in 2019 in memory of G. M. Millard-Thompson by his family, who had originally purchased them from Charlotte Studio in Broadstairs around 1968. His daughters wrote to the Museum on 12 June 2019 with their recollections of the dolls: “The dolls were purchased by our father G M Millard-Thompson circa 1968 from Charlotte Studio, 10 Charlotte St, Broadstairs, Kent. Just as Dickens made Kent his summer retreat, for 22 years from 1837 at Fort House, Broadstairs, so did our family (me, my two sisters and parents) in the 1960s – and Broadstairs was an easy 10 minute car trip away from Botany Bay where the family had a small bungalow (not to be confused with Botany Bay, Sydney!). Not only did we love Broadstairs, its sandy beaches, and donkey rides, we were great Dickens fans. One rainy grey day, circa 1968, after a family visit to Bleak House we all ambled into Charlotte Studios - our idea of ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’, 10 Charlotte St, Broadstairs, Kent (still there today as the Broadstairs Gallery) and my father, a scientist not prone to bouts of indulgent shopping, was captivated by the dolls, the detail, the fabrics, the way each one was handmade bringing the characters to life and he bought out the entire stock (or so it seemed to us) - 14 dolls – characters from seven of Dickens’s novels: ‘Bleak House’, ‘David Copperfield’, ‘Great Expectations’, ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Pickwick Papers’, and ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’.

By contrast my mother was not that enthusiastic and from memory they were not on display at home – I think she thought was were a bit creepy. However when my sisters and I later emigrated to Australia in our 20s, the dolls came with us, and my sister had them on display in her home in a glass-front case. Sadly, when she moved home, the dolls were packed away in my attic and it was only by chance that I mentioned them to my friend and neighbour Catherine du Peloux Menage that the dolls were introduced to the NSW Dickens Society and then brought to your museum today to add to your Edith Russell collection.”

The donor’s sister added: “Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of them. I had them on display for a bit at Seaforth but the fabric was beginning to fade so I was a bit worried about the deterioration. No mum did not like the dolls as she called them just collectors, so they were never displayed while dad was alive and she thought they were bit creepy too.”

Inscription content

Miss Havisham /From / Great Expectations. / Edith Russell.

CHARLOTTE STUDIO / 10 CHARLOTTE ST. / BROADSTAIRS

Inscription description

Handwritten in black ink on base
Stamped in black ink on base

Credit line

Donated on 12 June 2019 to the Charles Dickens Museum in memory of Geoffrey Malcolm Millard-Thompson, by his family.
    Powered by CollectionsIndex+/CollectionsOnline