The History of Little Fanny

Little Fanny

A treasure in the de Grummond Collection is an early toy book, a precursor to the modern paper doll. The title is The History of Little Fanny shown here. Published in 1810 in London, by S. and J. Fuller, "Little Fanny" consists of a cardboard slipcase, 7 cut out figures, one moveable head, and four hats. The book is widely regarded as the first published paper doll.

The aim of the book was to teach virtue to children in the nineteenth century, not to entertain. Children were taught the results of immorality and the rewards of virtue.

In The History of Little Fanny, the object is to dress Little Fanny in accordance with the instructions in the accompanying story book. Each chapter in the book has a heading that describes what Fanny should be wearing. She begins by wearing her very aristocratic white dress with a pink sash, carrying her doll.

Then, because of her idleness and vanity, she is overtaken by ill fortune, and she is next seen with bare feet in a long red cloak begging for bread. Through a series of trials and tribulations, she is finally restored to her former station in life modestly dressed with book in hand, now no longer idle, proud or vain."

To view this item, you may visit Room 305 of McCain Library and Archives. The History of Little Fanny can be found at de Grummond PZ6 .H628 1810.

For more information on this item and other items in the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection, contact Ellen Ruffin at or 601.266.6543. To see more Items of the Month, click here.

Further Reading

Barnes, Alison. "Childhood's Magic Lives in This Treasury." Saturday Night 12 July 1949.

Vries, Leonard de. A Treasury of Illustrated Children's Books : Early Nineteenth Century Classics from the Osborne Collection. New York: Abbeville Press, 1989.

Text by Ellen Ruffin, Curator of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection