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Milly-Molly-Mandy is a set of children's books written and illustrated by Joyce Lankester Brisley. The books follow a little girl, Milly-Molly-Mandy, who wears a pink-and-blue striped dress. The illustrations show Milly-Molly-Mandy growing from about age four through to age eight.
Milly-Molly-Mandy's real name is Millicent Margaret Amanda, but she was given the nickname because of the length of her full name. Her adventures are the everyday events of village life: running errands, going to school, making presents, fishing, picnicking, and so on. She lives in "the nice white cottage with the thatched roof" on the edge of a small village. Her parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle also live in the cottage. Her friends are Billy Blunt, a slightly older boy whose parents run a corn shop and Little-Friend-Susan, who lives in the cottage down the road. Occasionally, the stories include other friends such as Miss Muggin's niece Jilly; Bunchy, a slightly younger girl who first appears in 'Milly-Molly-Mandy gets a New Dress', and Jessamine, a wealthy girl whose family often vacations at The House with the Iron Railings.
The stories take place in south east England, and because of the proximity to the sea and the downs, and the chalk roads in the village, they would appear to take place near to the south coast. There are map illustrations inside the front covers of each book. Each differs slightly to indicate the different events in the stories. When they take a trip to the seaside by train, another illustration has white cliffs which would suggest Kent or Sussex, and is visually rather akin to Eastbourne. The author was born in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, which is the next town east of Eastbourne. Both Bexhill and Eastbourne have railway stations. Milly-Molly-Mandy's village (possibly based on picturesque Alfriston or similar in East Sussex) does not have a railway station but she goes to a nearby town via pony and trap to take the train, these could be akin to Polegate, Berwick or Glynde which are close to Alfriston (if the author did base the stories on her own nearby area). The year is the late 1920s, given the state of inventions; cars are just spreading into general use but there are no telephones, household electricity or aeroplanes as a rule.
- Milly-Molly-Mandy's real name is Millicent Margaret Amanda but her family thought it too long a name to call every time they wanted her. She always wears a pink and white striped frock and sometimes a yellow hat. Milly-Molly-Mandy helps by running errands for the family. Milly-Molly-Mandy lives in a nice white cottage with a thatched roof with her large family.
Father's first name is John. Father does all the gardening and grows vegetables for the whole family to eat and sell.
Mother's first name is Mary but she is called Polly in everyday use. Mother makes all the meals for the family and does all the washing.
Grandpa takes the vegetables to market using his pony (Twinkletoes) and cart.
Grandma knits socks, mittens and nice warm woolies for them all. In Milly-Molly-Mandy Spends A Penny, Grandma teaches her to knit a tea cosy.
Uncle's first name is Joe. Uncle keeps cows (to give them all milk) and chickens (to give them all eggs).
Aunty sews frocks and shirts for them all and does the sweeping and dusting. Aunty's first name is Alice.
Great Aunt Margaret is Grandma's sister and came to stay for a few days.
Topsy is Milly-Molly-Mandy's black and white cat.
Toby is Milly-Molly-Mandy's small black and white terrier.
Duckling: In the story Milly-Molly-Mandy spends a penny she saves up three pennies and buys a duckling.
Little Friend Susan (Susan Moggs) is Milly-Molly-Mandy's best friend. She lives with her mother and father and little sister Doris in a cottage near Milly-Molly-Mandy's.
Billy Blunt is another friend of Milly-Molly-Mandy's. Milly-Molly-Mandy, Susan, and Billy often go around playing together. Billy Blunt lives with his mother and father who own a corn shop in the village.
Jessamine is the little girl whose wealthy family often vacations at The House with the Iron Railings. In one story, she and her mother take MMM, Billy, and Susan on a drive to the Downs.
Jilly Muggins is another friend to Milly-Molly-Mandy. She lives with her Aunty, Miss Muggins, who owns a shop that sells sweets and material and other useful things that everybody in the village needs.
Adults in the village
Mr Rudge is a blacksmith who Milly-Molly-Mandy invited to their party. He plays cricket. In the last book he gets married and Milly-Molly-Mandy and Little Friend Susan are the bridesmaids.
Miss Edwards is a teacher at Milly-Molly-Mandy's school. In one of the stories, Miss Sheppard the headmistress went away and Miss Edwards became the headteacher. She moves into the school cottage. Because she was moving from the town into the cottage, Miss Edwards writes to Milly-Molly-Mandy's mother to ask if she might stay for a few days while she gets the cottage sorted out. Mother agrees to this so Milly-Molly-Mandy is worried that she will have to be on her best behavior. In fact, teacher turns out to be completely a different person away from school; Billy Blunt and Little Friend Susan wish that she had come to their houses.
Doris Moggs is Little Friend Susan's baby sister. Milly-Molly-Mandy helps look for a name for her and decides on Primrose but Mrs Moggs had already named her Doris. Milly-Molly-Mandy crochets Doris a bonnet when she (MMM) gets locked in her bedroom by accident.
Bunchy's real name is Violet Rosemary May. In one story Milly-Molly-Mandy rips her dress while playing with Toby so Mother and Milly-Molly-Mandy go out to buy some new material. This is where they meet Bunchy also buying material for a new dress. Unfortunately, there are only two types of suitable dressmaking material: one is Milly-Molly-Mandy's pink and white stripes and the other is a pattern of daisies and forget-me-nots. Both girls want it but there is only enough for one dress, so Milly-Molly-Mandy decides Bunchy should have it because of her name and the two become friends.
Milly-Molly-Mandy books include:
- Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories (1928)
- More of Milly-Molly-Mandy (1929)
- Further Doings of Milly-Molly-Mandy (1932)
- Milly-Molly-Mandy Again (1948)
- Milly-Molly-Mandy & Co (1955)
- Milly-Molly-Mandy and Billy Blunt (1967)
- The Adventures of Milly-Molly-Mandy (omnibus, 1992)
- The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook (selection, 2001)
While acknowledging that the stories have been sometimes represented as twee and sentimental, Lucy Mangan, writing in The Guardian, describes them as delightful and comforting: "each story is a miniature masterpiece, as clear, warm and precise as the illustrations by the author that accompanied them".
- "Circus adventures, sizzling science and galactic snacks - book reviews". Lancashire Evening Post. 15 October 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
- Mangan, Lucy (15 February 2018). "My life as a bookworm: what children can teach us about how to read". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 February 2018.