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Milly-Molly-Mandy refers to a series of children's books written and illustrated by Joyce Lankester Brisley, as well as to the main character of those books. Each book has a number of short stories about the little girl in the pink-and-white striped dress. The length of each chapter is well matched to the needs of a bedtime story, particularly for little girls aged roughly five to eight. The illustrations show Milly-Molly-Mandy growing from about age four through to age eight, as can be seen by her physical development.
Milly-Molly-Mandy's real name is Millicent Margaret Amanda, but she was given the nickname because her full name was considered too long. 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 and Little-Friend-Susan. The stories take place in south east England, and because of the proximity to the sea and 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 signify 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.
These simple tales were originally published in the Christian Science Monitor. 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".
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)
- Joyce Lankester Brisley at Fantastic Fiction
- Lucy Mangan in The Guardian, 1 November 2008
- 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.