Saturday, 29 September 2012

More Milly-Molly-Mandy Sweetness

I love the Milly-Molly-Mandy books by Joyce Lankester Brisley. Clearly I am not alone in this, as a post I wrote nearly two years ago shortly after starting my blog, is still my all time most popular one according to Blogger stats. (You can read it here!) 

I was lucky enough back then to have found 'utility' copies of the first two MMM books, both published in 1949, reprints of the originals published in 1928 and 1929. 

 Now I have managed to find another to add to my collection...

This one is from the 1960s, originally published in 1948.

The first story tells of how Milly-Molly-Mandy's dress got ripped to shreds by an over-excited Toby dog.  Our poor heroine has to head home to tell Mother, and is greeted by Uncle who cheerfully says, 'Now you'll catch it.  Tell Mother to send you out to me if she wants you to get a good spanking.  I'll give you a proper one!' 

Fortunately, Milly-Molly-Mandy was not reduced to a quivering wreck by this - she 'knew Uncle was only joking'.
Mother, along with the other womenfolk of the household, were very understanding saying that it wasn't going to last much longer, being faded and outgrown.  

Mother and Milly-Molly-Mandy head to Miss Muggins' shop to buy some 'stuff' for a new dress - something quite different from her usual pink and white stripes.  There they meet a girl called Bunchy, also buying 'stuff' for a new dress, with her Grandmother.  In the end there is only pink and white striped fabric or one with daisies and forget-me-nots to choose from.  And there's only enough of the daisies and forget-me-nots for one dress, so dear little Milly-Molly-Mandy gives up her desire for something quite different so that Bunchy can have the flowery fabric.  Ahhh!

Here's Milly-Molly-Mandy still wearing her pink and white stripes whilst sledging.  Brrr!

But do not fear, for Milly-Molly-Mandy does get a different dress at one point in this book!  Mr Rudge, the blacksmith, marries his sweetheart, and Milly-Molly-Mandy and Little-Friend-Susan are bridesmaids in pink dresses nearly down to their feet, with bunches of roses in their hands.

But life was not all sweetness and light, even back then in the little village where Milly-Molly-Mandy and friends lived. 

 For one of the stories is worryingly entitled...

The gang in question take pleasure in knocking off people's hats, setting chickens loose, leaving field gates open and undoing washing lines.  

Milly-Molly-Mandy, Billy Blunt and Little-Friend-Susan form a gang of their own to un-do all these misdeeds, meeting secretly in an old cycle shed to make up rules and such like. In the end, the real 'gang' seem to tire of their naughtiness and, in twos and threes, ask to join Milly-Molly-Mandy's gang.  Then they all have fun playing rounders.  

If only modern gang culture could be cured as easily!


  1. Such a sense of innocence in those books and illustrations, and then confirmed by what you say about how the word 'gang' meant something so different.

  2. Oh I loved Milly Molly Mandy! My youngest daughter is called Millie and she loved the books too ... You've brought back lots of lovely memories! xxx

  3. I used to read these to my eldest, reprints of course, I agree they are such sweet, simple and practical tales.

  4. The story about the stripey dress fabric is one of the few that I remember well from childhood x

  5. I never read Milly Molly Mandy so thank you for the taster !

  6. I was delighted to read this. We love Milly Molly Mandy in our house. I always smile to myself when I read the stories to my youngest, just at how things have changed. I love the way MMM and LFS are left at home one night to make their own supper and how MMM gets up in the night to warm milk on the stove for a baby hedgehog. Our favourite is the one where MMM and BB fall in the river in their clean clothes.
    We've got an original Bunchy book which is ancient.
    I'm off to read your other post now.

  7. You've bought back so many memories, I loved MMM xx

  8. Oh dear!!
    We had MMM as reading books at junior school, so long ago now that I didn't think anyone would know them, yet alone read them!
    Sorry to say I hated them, probably because being a Molly the other children used to chant Milly Molly Mandy at me!! Well I was very young at the time!

  9. I loved these stories when I was little, thanks for taking me down memory lane! Ada :)

  10. 55years ago I sat on the bridge over the stream beside our house in a leafy part of north west London reading MMM - hopefully you can hear the nostalgia in my voice. This was followed by the 'Little House on the Prairie' series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I still have both sets of books and no snowy winter is complete without reading 'The Long Winter' and we think we have got it tough.