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The Lonely Doll (Edith #1)

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,063 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
Once there was a little doll. Her name was Edith. She lived in a nice house and had everything she needed except someone to play with. She was lonely! Then one morning Edith looked into the garden and there stood two bears! Since it was first published in 1957, The Lonely Doll has established itself as a unique children's classic. Through innovative photography Dare Wright ...more
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published September 28th 1998 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1957)
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingLittle House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls WilderCharlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. LewisTwilight by Stephenie Meyer
What Book Got You Hooked?
345th out of 3,119 books — 8,639 voters
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. MilneA Bear Called Paddington by Michael BondCorduroy by Don FreemanBrown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright
Dolls and Teddy Bears
5th out of 115 books — 45 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,613)
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Dec 08, 2015 Miriam rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture, art
Edith lives in a lovely house and has everything she needs -- except company. She is desperately lonely, praying every night for friends and trying to talk with the small animals who seem to be the only living things left in this deserted world. Perhaps there has been some apocalypse, some epidemic which wiped out all mammals. Edith is on the verge of going mad from isolation when finally two strange bears appear. Father and son? They do not say. Possibly Mr Bear appropriated and "adopted" Littl ...more
Apr 05, 2009 karen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: creepy-dolls
my thanks to boyd for answering my call for "more creepy doll books". it seems everyone knew about this but me. and its great! i got the two still in print, and will track down the rest. and while i was buying them, my cashier-friend commanded me to read the bio, which i will also do. this book is beautiful and sad and just so well-posed. theres a lot more conveyed than meets the eye at first glance. these photos need to be really examined, not just paged through. another book i am baffled that ...more
Apr 28, 2011 Jessica rated it it was amazing
how many of you were sucked into Dare Wright's world as a child? What a world! Black and white photographs of a doll stepping into an old abandoned house, meeting a friendly old turtle, riding on his back to the outside, befriending 2 teddy bears, a nice one and a grumpy one point she takes off her clothes and they dress her in fern leaves...what a world. Beautiful and mysterious and a bit kinky. I think we should start a Dare Wright Club and call it Under the Influence. I know her own ...more
Dec 19, 2015 Licha rated it liked it
What a strange book. When my 15yr. old daughter saw me checking this out of the library, she looked at me like I was crazy. As soon as she opened it, she immediately called it weird and creepy and decided to read it on the spot. She definitely picked up on the very weird vibe of this book, calling it disturbing and "porny".

I have to agree that the book teeters on the edge of inappropriateness. The book was written in 1957. It a story told in black and white photographs about a doll, Edith, who i
Sam Quixote
Aug 30, 2013 Sam Quixote rated it did not like it
The Lonely Doll is one of the creepiest books I've ever read. That it's supposed to be a kid's book only makes it creepier.

It's a 1950s book made up of black and white photos - that's right, no colour for you damn kids! - starring a disturbed, sad doll as two terrifying teddy bears, the youngest of whom is blank faced making him even more scary, and an adult bear, who has what can only be described as a crazy expression, move into the doll's house so she's no longer alone.

The phrase "Just wait a
You know, if you read this at a surface level, it might seem innocent and pretty normal. However, underneath there's something creepy, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed that. The beautifully constructed photographs evoke in turn loneliness and subjugation, and the text itself tells us how Edith is so lonely, that she lets complete strangers inside the house and take over her life. Occasionally she seems to have fun, but then she gets spanked for doing a naughty thing. There's no one ...more
Sep 19, 2009 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
I had this book as a child -- still own it as a matter of fact. I had the doll as well. I was looking for a new copy for my granddaughter when I ran across some rather surprising reviews. Seems the general consensus is that the author, Dare Wright, had a troubled childhood and it is reflected in her books. I guess when viewed from todays pc society, the books don't fit into what is right for "today's" kids -- I mean there is an instance of the father bear spanking the little bear when he disobey ...more
Lise Petrauskas
I both loved this book and found it creepy. I don't know if the creepiness was what appealed to me, actually. I read a feature on Dare Wright in Tin House years ago that confirmed that she was herself lonely and a bit odd.

This is in that category of books that were very influential but about which I have mixed feelings. The photographs themselves and the doll (why are certain dolls creepy?) are well done and very innovative. I have always responded to children's books that are illustrated with
Dec 05, 2012 karenbee rated it liked it
Never read The Lonely Doll as a kid, somehow acquired a biography of Dare Wright (still unread), saw this displayed in the kiddie section at the library and snatched it up. I read it this morning because I needed to take it back to the library.

This is a children's book that involves a story, told through photographs, of a doll who is desperate for friends until one day two bears mysteriously show up. There's a large bear who ends up being a father figure and a little bear who ends up being the
Lisa Vegan
Sep 22, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: not for sensitive, or modern, children
This one disturbed me when I was a child, although the pictures were amazing.
Shonna Froebel
I had heard the book The Lonely Doll mentioned in a discussion of children's books that people found creepy and decided that I had to see for myself. Then I found that there were a whole series of these books, all around Edith, the Lonely Doll. I ordered some to see what they were like.
The stories in these picture books are simple, told in short text with large black and white photographs of the doll and other characters posed in situations, acting out the story. They are quite different, and I
J.F. Sanborn
Jul 23, 2011 J.F. Sanborn rated it did not like it
Shelves: picture-books
The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright

This book was originally published in 1957 and has content which may have been more acceptable then, but could be considered offensive now. The story is of a doll named Edith who has everything she could possibly want, except friends. She prays for friends each night until, one day, Mr. Bear and Little Bear come into her life. Mr. Bear assumes an authoritative, fatherly role over Edith and they become a family. They begin to have a nice life together, doing fun acti
Oct 04, 2009 Trish rated it liked it
I was reading this story book because I learned of the biography of the author, Dare Wright, by Jean Nathan. The biography suggests that the story book series reflects a sinister, sexual tone because in nearly every photo frame one can see the doll's underwear, and because in one scene the doll is being spanked.

I read the book for the first time now, as an adult, with the biographer's idea lodged in my brain, but I have to admit I do not see any sinister, sexual overtones that would be apparent
Oct 22, 2013 Esutterlin rated it it was amazing
This is an oldie but goody. My review is for the whole series: Of course the doll's name, Edith, makes it very dated, but the name is obviously why this book first appealed to me as a child. Then the fact that she is always getting into trouble, often because she doesn't do what she is told; also that she has good intentions, and takes everything personally -- that also resonated with me. But I still like the book for the illustrations - the idea of placing a doll and teddy bear(s) in real home/ ...more
Cindy Kleback
Jul 08, 2014 Cindy Kleback rated it it was ok
This may be the creepiest picture book I've had the misfortune of reading. It's from 1957 and features a somewhat lifelike doll and her two bear friends. The weirdest part is when the older bear spanks both the doll and the little bear for misbehaving. Oh my!!
Sep 13, 2013 Pj rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
This is a book that needs two reviews.

Review One: I have no childhood memories of this book. As such, I can only say that it is a decent enough story well enough written.

Review Two: As I said earlier, I have no childhood memories of this book. I searched it out of curiosity after hearing it described on the podcast Pop My Culture. As a result, this is a book that I enjoy just knowing it out there in the world. It is well done enough to be more than just an odd book.

Overall, a decent and welco
Nov 09, 2014 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Robert by: Patty Phillips
Shelves: bears, toys, 2-1, donated
This was another book in a box from my sister. I almost just logged this and put it in a pile. But I looked through and then read it. This was a wonderful story! I really like the simplicity of it all. Nowadays, I imagine this would be seen as too simple, but it works. It's a good story!

A doll is lonely. Along come two bears and the adventures begin. I really like that the photographs. While we have all seen books that use real photos, this is the only one I recall from the 1950s. This book proc
May 29, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childhood
I came across a photo of this book completely by accident and it brought back such a flood of memories. We read every single one of these strange books by Dare Wright as kids. There was something creepy and a little scary about them - the staginess of all the scenes, the black and white photography. One picture that stayed with me in particular, I'm not sure from which book, was Edith the doll turned over Mr. Bear's knee getting a spanking. Now the whole idea makes me think of Cindy Sherman....

Dec 11, 2012 Angie rated it did not like it
I think I'm missing something. This book may not have withstood the test of time. Maybe because this book was written the same year my Mom was born, I'm not going to understand the connection people have with it.

It isn't that I'm offended by the spanking or that I disagree with the doll wanting to be a woman. I just don't understand. Is this house abandoned? If so, whose things are these? She lives alone, but she's just a little girl. Maybe she's agoraphobic, but then she wouldn't really be cr
Shannon Burton
May 27, 2012 Shannon Burton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yesteryear
I had this book as a child, growing up in the 70's. I LOVED it. It offered what no other book did: A dreamy world, with imperfect characters all magically brought together with lipstick, dress up, friendship, authority, discipline and..., well, imperfect love. I was sheltered, Edith was sheltered, and although I could not describe it then, I felt like I was peering into Edith's private world. As an adult, I understand more of Wright's life-and the book is magical once again.
Callie Rose Tyler
Feb 13, 2014 Callie Rose Tyler rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
There is something off-putting and unintentionally creepy about this book and I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing. I love the element of photography instead of illustrations. I’m not sure if this is an ideal book for a child but I found it to be something different which is always fun.

Personally it reminds me of old stop motion short films I used to watch as a small child.
Feb 09, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
I was so taken with this book as a youngster, I searched and found my own hard copies some thirty years later simply to have and look at! I read them to my son who enjoyed them for years as his favorite books. Though the photos are in b&w the doll and her bear friends are as colorful today as they were in my childhood. Not to mention the concept is timeless!
Feb 23, 2007 anne rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fetishers of spanking by bear
This is a book i loved as a wee babe. Its b&w photos of Dolls & Bears in a Real Person's house are eerie.

They conjour the same anomalous feeling as the Star Trek episode when kirk, spock & bones find themselves in an uninhabited land. It's plastic and sterile and they can't find any natives. Just when the viewer decides the populace moved underground to flee a virus or ear-eating locust, an enormous hand comes out of the sky, like a macy's day parade balloon, and rearranges the furni
Apr 10, 2014 Dolly rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Shelves: childrens, 2014
I'm not sure where I discovered this book, but I think it was in a review here on Goodreads. Just looking at the cover creeped me out and I didn't borrow it the first (or second) time I saw it at my local library.

But finally, for curiosity's sake, I picked it up. The fact that it was written in the 1950s and was a much-beloved children's series really baffles me, but I suppose children's books were just different back then.

The spanking scene doesn't even bother me that much, although I comment
Mar 28, 2012 Betsy rated it liked it
Hmmm... 5 stars for originality, 1 star for creepy factor. Now, my children didn't pick up on it, but I was a wee bit troubled when Mr. Bear spanks the doll for being naughty. He is kind of the father figure in the book, I suppose, but he's only ever called her "friend." So that kind of weirded me out. Anyone else?

This book came recommended from a source I trust, but this was not what I was expecting. I like the idea of taking pictures of dolls and inventing a story around them, but this is hard
Jul 28, 2014 Lynsie rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
What I read of this book is true. It is a wonderfully imaginative children's book that will captivate children but it also has a slightly dark undercurrent that adults may recognize. The scenes are wonderful, and Edith the doll truly does seem to be alive in several of the images.
Nov 18, 2008 Maryka added it
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Maryka by: received as gift from my aunt
Shelves: children
A childhood favorite (I had a dress to match Edith's).No one could be prettier, kinder, more elegant or sadder than Edith, the lonely doll. Beautiful black and white photos and sprightly text make it easy to feel a kinship with Edith.

Years later, I found the story behind the story in The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll by Jean Nathan. It's the story of Edith's creator, Dare Wright, a living lonely doll. She and her brother, both highly creative and talented, were victims of a repressive and suffo
Nov 28, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
What can I say, I love Dare Wright. I adore how she brings her photographs to life. Plus this book was a bit controversial when it came out.
Mar 07, 2014 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and fun, especially when you still had a suspicion that dolls were alive anyway.
Jan 16, 2014 Jeanine rated it really liked it
I never read these books as a child, but I imagine I would have liked them. The photos are beautiful and sad. I didn't feel anything was "off" about it. The doll's playmates act like any other playmates, micking adults and testing boundaries in their own safe world, occasionally getting emotional. I read this to my 3 year old son and he liked it too.
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Other Books in the Series

Edith (10 books)
  • Holiday for Edith and the Bears
  • The Doll and the Kitten
  • The Lonely Doll Learns a Lesson
  • Edith and Mr. Bear
  • A Gift from the Lonely Doll
  • Edith and Big Bad Bill
  • Edith and Little Bear Lend a Hand
  • Edith and Midnight
  • Edith and the Duckling

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