Dressing up like a fairy

the book:

After Such Kindness by Gaynor Arnold

published 2012  chapter 4

His bedroom was very plain and rather dark and his bed was a narrow one like mine. He had laid out four sets of fairy dresses in a row on top of the counterpane. They were made of white muslin and had muslin wings attached to the backs which looped over our fingers at the other end. The skirts had silk petals around the waist pointing downwards. And there were four head-dresses made of silk flowers. The dresses didn’t fit very well, but luckily Hannah had her needle and thread with her so she tacked them to fit. When Mr Jameson saw us come out he was very excited and said we were just how he imagined. Hannah said she hoped he’d be quick as although it was summer we weren’t used to going without stockings and shoes and she didn’t want the blame if we all caught our deaths. So we went straight in to Mr Jameson’s studio which was on the same bit of staircase, but more like a large dark pantry with no windows. Then he showed us all how we should stand, pretending we were moving our wings but not really moving at all.

observations: Mr Jameson – based on Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who wrote Alice in Wonderland under the name Lewis Carroll – likes taking pictures of little girls, words to strike horror into modern hearts. Nobody knows what was inside Lewis Carroll’s heart and soul, and certainly there is absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part, but still any modern parent would be very alert and worried by his interests. In this book Gaynor Arnold draws a very careful picture of what she thinks of her stand-in character’s actions – though of course we must also quote again her words: ‘my made-up story of Daisy Baxter has ramifications that never, as far as I know, affected either the real-life Alice or those around her.’

The picture is from one of Clothes in Books favourite resources – the photograph album of the
Builth Wells Pageant of 1912. We would use pictures of this event (a cast of 1000, an audience of 5000) every week if we could, but we’re trying to make them last. In fact, in an economical way, this photograph is the other half of one that we used for Pauline and Petrova in Ballet Shoes. And one of the best blog photos ever – Stig the Ancient Briton – is also from the album.

Links up with: this book featured before, more fairies
here and here.


  1. Last weekend I finished We Have to Talk about Kevin. Have you read it? It made quite an impression on me. I wonder if you would talk about Kevin's penchant for very tiny and tight fitting clothes and what image you'd use.

  2. Moira - You know, I never thought of Lewis Carroll in that way, but yes, as a modern parent I would definitely feel extremely uncomfortable with his interest in girls. And I also found it interesting that Hannah was quite prepared and able to take needle and thread to one of those dresses. I wonder how many of today's girls of the same age could do that...

  3. There are some great photos from the Builth Wells archive. I love Stig!


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