Playing with Size and Reality: The Fascination of a Dolls’ House World

Nancy Wei Ning Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The dolls’ house as children’s plaything is anything but simple. Inasmuch as the dolls’ house may be the reproduction of domestic ideals on a minute scale and an educational model prompting girls to become good housewives, this article argues that it is also a means and space to express imagination, creativity, and agency. Including a short history of the development of dolls’ houses, this article considers how the image of the dolls’ house is significant in the depiction of a perfect domestic world through the examination of selected dolls’ house stories in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century and adult women’s autobiographical recollections of dolls’ house play in their Victorian childhood. Secondly, the article also examines some lesser-known children’s fiction set inside the dolls’ house or in a miniature world, such as Edith Nesbit’s The Magic City (1910) and offers a close reading of Doris Davey’s My Dolly’s Home (1921), to discuss how literary representations of dolls’ houses and depictions of children’s adventures into miniature worlds juxtapose size contrasts and provoke readers’ unconscious anxieties about the boundaries between imagination and reality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-295
Number of pages18
JournalChildren's Literature in Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 27 Sep 2015


  • Dolls’ houses
  • Miniature
  • Miniaturization
  • My Dolly’s Home

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