Little Lord Fauntleroy Text: Hair Styles--Curls

Figure 1.--Almost all of the Birch drawings show Cedric in the same velvet suit and lace collar. Notive the long, floeing, but uncurled hair. I'm not sure to what extent Mrs. Burnett and Birch discussed the illustrations. This is one of the original Reginald Birch illustrations.

One of the fashions most assosiated with Little Lord Fauntleroy is long ringlet curls. American boys in part because of the Fauntleroy crazemight wear ringlet curls. This was always a minority of boys, but the photographic record bery clearly shows that large numbers of boys did indeed hve their hair done in ringlets. Ironically Ringlets curls were never mentioned by Mrs. Burnett, nor were they pictured in the originasl irch illustrations. Mrs Burnett did constantly refer to Cedric's curls. She never mentions, however, his hair actually being curled. We are left to assume that his hair was naturally curly. She also does not detail just how long his hair was. Birch in the original illustrations shows long, flowing hair. He shows shoulder length hair, but unlike the references in the book, not particullarly curly hair. e never pictured Cedric with ringlets.

Actual Text

Here are the actual references to curls in Mrs. Burnett's text:

Though he was born in so quiet and cheap a little home, it seemed as if there was never a more fortunate baby. In the first place, he was always well, and so he never gave anyone trouble; in the second place he had so sweet a temper and ways so charming that he was a pleasure to everyone; and in the third place he was so beautiful to look at that he was quite a picture. Instead of being a bald-headed baby, he started in life with a quantity of soft, fine, gold coloured hair, which curled up at the ends, and went into loose rings by the time he was six months old; he had big brown eyes and long eye lashes and a darling little face .... [Chapter 1]

He was not much more than a baby , but that thought [conforting deartest on his father's death] was in his mind whenever he climbed upon her knee and kissed her, a put his curly head on her neck, and when brought his toys and picture books to show her .... [Chapter 1]

She [Mary] was proud of his graceful, strong little body and his pretty manners, especially proud of the bright curly hair which waved over his forehead and fell in charming love-locks on his shoulders. She was willing to work early and late to help his mamma to make his small suits and keep them in order. [Chapter 1]

[After being told the story of the dastardly British and the bravery of the American revolutionaries by Mr. Hobbs] Cedric was so excited that his eyes shone and his cheeks were red and his curls were all rubbed and rumbled into a yellow mop. [Chapter 1]

[When he told Mr. Hobbs that he had just learned that he was an aristocrat] Cedric flushed up to the curly hair on his forehead. [Chapter 2]

He was such a handsome, blooming, curly-headed littke fellow, that when he sat down and nursed his knee with his chuby hands, and conversed with much gravity, he was a source of great entertainment to his hearers. [Chapter 4]

A very skight smile touched Mr. Haversham's thin lips [as he described Cedric to the Earl]. There rose up before his mind's eye the picture he had left at Court Lodge--the beautiful, graceful child's body lying upon his tiger-skin-in careless comfort--the bright, tumbled hair spread on the rug-the bright, rosy boy's face. [Chapter 4]

[After helping the Earl] And he rubbed his damp curls rather vigorously with the generous handkerchief. [Chapter 5]

The Earl was still leaning back in his chair. He moved as Mr. Havisham approached and held up his hand in a gesture of warning--it seemed as if he had scarecely intended to make the gesture--as if it was almost involuntary. Dougal was still asleep, and close behind the great dog, sleeping also, with his curly head upon his arm, lay little Lord Fauntleroy. [Chaptet 5]

[Cedric parted from his mother on the Earl's orders was carried to bed, the sevants much taken with the boy, describe the scene] "And as to looks, mem, when he was rung for, James and me go t the library and bring him upstairs, and James lifted him upmin his arms, and with his little innercent face all red and rosy, and his little head on James' shoulders and his hair hanging down , all curly and shinin', a prettier, takuner sight you'd never wish to see. [Chapter 6]

Then it had gratified him [the Earl] to drive to church with Cedric and to see the excitement and interest caused by the arrival. He knew how the people would speak of the beauty of the little lad; of his fine, strong, straight body; of his erect bearing, his handsome face, and his bright hair, and how they would say (as the Earl had heard one woman exclaim to another) that the boy was "every inch a lord." [Chapter 7]

[The Earl relents when Cedric wants to help the poor tenants] "I am a violent, selfish old rascal; I never did a generous thing in my life, and I don't care about Earl's Court or the poor people"--or something which would amount to the same thing. He actually had learned to be fond enough of that small boy with the mop of yellow love-locks, to feel that he himself would prefer to be guilty of an amiable action now and then. And so--though he laughed at himself--after some reflection, he sent for Newick, and had quite a long interview with him on the subject of the Court, and it was decided that the wretched hovels should be pulled down and new houses should be built. [Chapter 10]

There was a movement of the curly head on the yellow satin cushion. A soft, long, sleepy sigh came from the parted lips, and the little boy stirred in his sleep, but not at all restlessly or uneasily. Not at all as if his slumber were disturbed by the fact that he was being proved a small impostor and that he was not Lord Fauntleroy at all and never would be the Earl of Dorincourt. He only turned his rosy face more on its side, as if to enable the old man who stared at it so solemnly to see it better. [Chapter 10]

They made quite a decent uproar, and one or two motherly women looked tenderly at the little fellow where he stood, with his mother on one side and the Earl on the other, and grew quite moist about the eyes, and said to one another:

"God bless him, the pretty little dear!"

Little Lord Fauntleroy was delighted. He stood and smiled, and made bows, and flushed rosy red with pleasure up to the roots of his bright hair.

"Is it because they like me, Dearest?" he said to his mother. "Is it, Dearest? I'm so glad!"

And then the Earl put his hand on the child's shoulder and said to him:

"Fauntleroy, say to them that you thank them for their kindness."

Fauntleroy gave a glance up at him and then at his mother.

"Must I?" he asked just a trifle shyly, and she smiled, and so did Miss Herbert, and they both nodded. And so he made a little step forward, and everybody looked at him--such a beautiful, innocent little fellow he was, too, with his brave, trustful face!--and he spoke as loudly as he could, his childish voice ringing out quite clear and strong.

"I'm ever so much obliged to you!" he said, "and--I hope you'll enjoy my birthday--because I've enjoyed it so much--and--I'm very glad I'm going to be an earl; I didn't think at first I should like it, but now I do--and I love this place so, and I think it is beautiful--and--and--and when I am an earl, I am going to try to be as good as my grandfather."

And amid the shouts and clamor of applause, he stepped back with a little sigh of relief, and put his hand into the Earl's and stood close to him, smiling and leaning against his side.

Reginald Birch

Famed illustrator Reginald Birch was the original and best known illustrator of . He was an established illustrator even before he illustrated Mrs. Burnett's classic. He also illustrated her Secret Garden. Born in 1856, he was still illustrating books in the 1930s. He must have witnessed tremendous changes in his long life span. He died in 1943. His illustrations may have been just as influential, if notbmore so. than Nrs. Burnett's text. He certainly emphasized long, flowing hair, but it was not done in ringlets.

Ringlet Curls

A ringlet as used in connection with hair styling is a curled lock of hair. It can also mean a small ring. Rinlet curls. The term was first used in English in the middle of the 16th century. A ringlet curl is tightly fashioned section of hair into rings or tubes of varying length--some quite long. This characteristic shape gave rise to the term "saussage" curls. Ringlet curls were used as a hair style in antiquity. I am not sure when the term ringlet curls was first used. We noted in as a particularly popular hair stye for women and girls in the early 19th century. Some younger boys in the early 19th century might also wear ringlets, but the style was most commonly worn by boys in the late 19th and early 20th century. One element of the Fauntleroy look were long shoulder-length ringlet curls. Not all boys wore ringlets with their Fauntleroy suits, but many did. Fauntleroy suits were not the only outfits with which ringlets were worn, but they were probably the most common. And it was not just little boys that wore ringlets.

Fauntleroy Hair Styles

Long shoulder-length ringlet curls are of course the mostly commonly associated hair style worn with Little Lord Fauntleroy suits. There were, however, a wide varierty of hair styles worn wih the Fauntleroy suit. This was in part because some boys were breeched before being attited in Fauntleroy suits. Thus there was no long tresses to curl.

Reader Comment

A reader writes, "This is an interesting HBC file. The early portrayals of Little Lord Fauntleroy in magazines and books, as as well as on the stage, had immense influence that lasted for many years, extending as late as the 1930s and 1940s. One of the most stunning portrayals of Little Lord Fauntleroy is a painting of Elsie Leslie, who was one of the first to play the role of Fauntleroy on the stage.


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Created: 4:10 PM 2/26/2007
Last updated: 11:01 PM 2/26/2007