Interior Design: The Doll's House and the Working-Class Child

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Final Published Version

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Victorian Literature and Culture

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This article explores the unexpected relationship that working-class children had with doll's houses in the late nineteenth century. Placing texts by children's author Frances Hodgson Burnett alongside historical material concerning the manufacture of doll's house furniture by students in London's Ragged Schools under the supervision of housing reformer Octavia Hill, I argue that both women understood the educational or formative value of the doll's house as deriving from the object's ability to teach lessons in temporality. I examine this object and its deployment in contemporary object lessons to show that the spatial divisions of these miniature homes operate in relation to both short- and long-term cycles of time. This article also demonstrates that apparently universal models of selfhood and development were in fact contingent on class structures (both authors, for instance, connect developmental abnormalities in poor children to the fact that they grow up in one-room homes).



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.