A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett is – at least I guess so – along with Kamikaze Girls and Alice in Wonderland one of THE Lolita books, after all, so it was quite obvious for me to dedicate a Porcelain Sunday to this piece of work. Especially when I think about that it’s been one of my favourite books for over ten years and I’ve read it more that once a year since, I’d say.
I got my first copy when I was seven or eight years old, a wonderful book with an elaborate cover and even more beautiful illustrations by Mr. Graham Rust. I read it everywhere, on the couch beneath the skylight with the bright stars shining above me while winter painted the window with his flowers, out in the garden in warm sunlight where the cold of the book’s London could still reach me and even in the bath tub where it got a little damp, I fear.
My second copy, this time in English, encountered my life in Coventry, United Kingdom, on my way to Ireland, together with a copy of The Secret Garden at a rummage sale in a community centre. Both were Parragon Children’s Classics and cost no more that a pound together. I don’t remember exactly if I knew about it already, but I was on the best way to become a Lolita.
But now for the inspirational part!
As I said before, the illustrations stunned me. There were all these Victorian dresses for little girls in pretty colours, the stripes of Ermengarde’s dress when we first encounter her, the looks of the Large Family!
This is not the first time we meet Ermengarde, but this picture illustrates very well what you could use a "princess friendship". Somehow.
One of the outfits I love most in the book is Sara’s rose-coloured dancing frock. I guess there will be references to it tomorrow…
Another favourite of mine is Ermengarde’s striped dress, it’s quite simple in a good way, without being just plain.
Here we first get to see Sara as a servant. Even in her misery she has the bearing of a princess, a countenance I surely try to have, too, but I definitely do not hope to meet with such circumstances as she had to.
And finally, there’s the Large Family. Not only do I adore the romantic, whimsical names Sara gives them – Ethelbertha Beauchamp and Violet Cholmondeley and Claude Harold Montmorency, to name only three of the children -, they also live in a wonderful house and a loving, cheerful family not only Sara dreamt of. And according to the illustrations they dress well, too!
Another point that can be seen as loliable is the way how Sara sees her dolls, especially Emily: Not as mere toys but beings with their own personality, just a little bit like Lottie, the eponymous doll from last week’s Porcelain Sunday. And I guess the way Sara’s dolls, especially the “Last Doll”, are dressed and decked out is exactly the way some Lolitas would like to see their BJDs or other favourite dolls treated like.
The Last Doll
Of this wonderful book there also is a movie (to be precisely there more than one, but I only talk about the 1995 version which is also the more popular one). While it is very pretty to look at, some of the alterations in comparison to the book aren’t too felicitous at all. After all, it even screws the original climax of the story. So, maybe you’ll mark my words and first read the book (if you haven’t yet, that is) and then watch the movie if you want to, but not as an adaption (a mistake I made when I first saw it) but as a loosely based-on story. They even made Sara blue-eyed and fair-haired instead of green-eyed and raven black! What a pity!
This is my favourite picture from the book I think, or at least from the end. Sara’s outfit is so pretty and her boots are simply a dream made of leather. Indeed, she is a little princess.
Today I’ll leave you with some really inspiring quotes, one from the book and two from the movie, that managed – despite all things they in my opinion did wrong with this film – to emphasize the message from the book which every Lolita should live up to, or, in my opinion, at least try to:
Sometimes I do pretend I am a princess. I pretend I am a princess, so that I can try and behave like one.
(Frances Hodgson Burnett: A Little Princess, first published 1888 – 1905)
I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t pretty, or smart, or young. They’re still princesses.
You can be anything you want to be, my love, as long as you believe.
(Warner Bros.: A Little Princess, 1995)