Figure 1.-.

The Burnetts: Hair Curling

A few writers recall the experience of wearing ringlet curls. Unfortunately I have only a few accounts of the experience. One of the most important of course is hair curling in the Burnett household.

An unimpeachable source (Vivian himself) provides the following charming account of what evenings were like for the Burnett boys. The Burnett boys seemed to have mixed feelings about the care and curling of their hair.

With all that she had to do, Mrs. Burnett might easily have considered herself justified in leaving the personal care of the boys to the help in the house. Her daily scrubbings included a minute, and, it might seem, too vigorous searching of the 'corners' into which a small boy in a hurry might not think it necessary to go after grime. The daily brushing and curling of their long hair was a somewhat mixed pleasure. Dearest (as the boys reffered to their mother), it is sure, thoroughly enjoyed the event. It was the sacrament of mother worship in which no doubt the fragrance of the laddies hair was a sort of incense. She speaks of her delight in feeling the 'warm little body' pressing against her knee. And to cap the climax, she had the added joy of her beloved art--story-telling.

The real feature of these events from the boys' point of view, was the 'Hair Curling Story.' The name has a delusive suggestion, for the stories were not fierce, but on the contrary, Dearest made her inspiration purr as gently as possible, and produced tales wonderfully adapted to hold fast the attention of six and seven year old boys and divert it from the anquish of tangles that would pull, even if handled ever so gently...

Source: Vivian Burnett, The Romatick Lady (Frances Hodgson Burnett) (Charles Scribner and Sons, New York-London, 1927), p135-

A biographer explaind,

Francis never did any public storytelling. She preferred the hair curling sessions by the fire with her boys. Writing about it, she said she knew it sounded incredible, but the boys actually enjoyed having their tangles taken out. The reason was that she told stories while she did it. One of these hair curling stories was later published as ‘The Good Wolf’--the wolf being an amiable animal who brought about all sorts of good things for a small boy who never wriggles when his hair is brushed.’ (Ann Thwait biography of Frances Burnett, p. 82)


[Return to Vivian Burnett]
[Return toMrs Burnetts]
[Ringlet curls]
[Bangs] [Main hair page] [Main curl page] [Long hair] [Ringlet curl process] [Ringlet curl expeience]
[Fauntleroy suits] [Hair bows] [Hats and caps] [Collar bows]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Cloth and textiles] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Satellite sites] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: August 26, 1998
Last edited: January 21, 2000