HITTY Her first hundred years by Rachel Field

 HITTY Her first hundred years cover

I was very surprised to receive a copy of HITTY Her first hundred years by Rachel Field as an unexpected gift from Wilhelmina an online friend from the D.E. Stevenson website. I must admit I had never even heard of the book but it was a very enjoyable comfort read, perfect for these pandemic times. The book was first published in 1929, is illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop and it won the John Newbery Medal.

Hitty is a wee wooden doll with peg joints, made out of a piece of mountain ash – or rowan as we call it in Scotland – a kind of wood which is magical as it keeps witches away, so she feels special, she’s only six and a half inches tall. It begins with Hitty sitting in an antique shop with a cat for company and she goes through her past life recounting the many adventures that she’s had along the way, and there are many. It seems that some of her little owners weren’t all that careful with her. She begins her family life with the Prebles of Maine where she’s given to seven year old Phoebe, it’s a very happy home but the sea-faring father needs a cook before he can take his ship to sea again and his wife has to step up and do the job, which means that the children go to sea too, including Hitty.

She’s shipwrecked, abducted by crows, stuffed down the back of a sofa, falls out of a car – you name it and it happened to Hitty – or just about. Almost every adventure ends up in a change of family for her where she experiences spoiled wealthy children and poor families, she goes up and down in society and also goes in and out of fashion. This is an entertaining memoir which also follows the changes in society over 100 years.

Having been ‘born’ in 1829 Hitty’s 200th anniversary is coming up fairly soon, I’m wondering if anyone is going to take up the baton and write about the years from 1930 to 2030. I do hope so!

Thanks for sending me this one Wilhelmina.

8 thoughts on “HITTY Her first hundred years by Rachel Field

  1. I love this book but am not surprised you had never come across it. Although it won the Newbery Award, some of the early winners do not get much attention. However, this might be my favorite doll story. There was a copy in my elementary school library so I read it multiple times. I especially loved the descriptions of Hitty’s clothes and the little trunk that accompanied her. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    Someone actually did write a sequel several years ago. I am deeply suspicious of unauthorized sequels (and even if authorized by the publisher; having worked for several, I can tell you they don’t always have skilled editors invested in protecting the original work), so have not read it.

    Thought you might like this article by the very talented Sadie Stein (who is also a Betsy-Tacy fan):
    https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/our-daily-correspondent/page/75/

    • Constance,

      Thanks for all that information. I also enjoyed the descriptions of her clothes and especially liked the grey Quaker one, which sadly came to grief. I’m not keen on all the rip-off sequels of books, especially the Jane Austen industry.
      I must say though that if I could snap my fingers and be anywhere (I’m not keen on flying) I would go to Prince Edward Island, but I would want to be there in the Anne days so it just wouldn’t be possible.

  2. I have a copy of this up in my attic somewhere! I loved it when I was a child but I haven’t read it in years. I went through a stage where I liked doll stories. I read all the Raggedy Ann stories as well. Celia liked those but I never could get her to read Hitty.

    • Jennifer,
      Well, it’s never too late to read a book meant for children (of all ages) so maybe Celia will get around to it one of these days. I’ve never read any Raggedy Ann stories – maybe one day with Isobel!

  3. Katrina,
    What a blast from the past! My mother foisted this title on me when I was 11 or 12 or so, and I did like it, at least enough to remember that I liked it. I did not love it, mostly because I was an anti-doll child. Still, it’s amazing that I liked it as much as I did. Thank you for the memory!!

    • Judith,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the memory. As the youngest in a large family with the others much older than me and out of the house I had dolls as company and had them performing in plays and such, so I did appreciate this one.

    • tracybham,
      I’m surprised that you haven’t already read it as it seems to have been something of a children’s classic in the US. I hope you enjoy it.

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