|Jocelyn Payne||Thompson, Kay: Eloise|
|Assignment 1: Bibliographic Description|
|1. First Edition Publication Information||The first edition of Eloise was published in New York, NY |
by Simon and Schuster in 1955.
|2. First Edition in Cloth, Paper, or Both?||The first edition was published in trade cloth.|
|4. Pagination||pp. 1-6,7-8,9,10,11,12,13-16,17-22,|
65-66. There are thiry-two leaves in Eloise.
|5. Edited and/or Introduced?||The Book was neither edited nor introduced.|
|6. Illustrated?||The book was illustrated by Hilary Knight,and includes 136 one color illustrations (29cm).|
|7. Sample Illustration||A1719990205022757.jpg|
|8. General Appearance||The book appears to be well pr|
inted,and the text is easy to read
in approximately 11 serif bold, however, there is an area in the text
where it is no longer bold (p.12)and clearly appears to be a
publishing flaw. The Illustrations are clear and well-displayed.
The number of lines on each page vary.
|10. Description of Paper||Printed on heavy and unwatermarked paper stock however,|
it is difficult to tell whether the paper was originally
white as it appears off-white now- probably a result of age. The book
has thirty-two leaves and the pages in the front and back are slightly
larger and have rougher edges than those in the mid-section.
|11. Description of Binding|| The book's binding is white, and the spine reads in red, ELOISE/A/BOOK/FOR/PRECOCIOUS/GROWN/UPS/THOMPSON/|
The cover reads in red, /ELOISE/ written in Knight's hand writing (identical to font on title page).
The pages are bound by glue and stitching.
|12. Title Page Transcription||KAY|THOMPSON'S|ELOISE|DRAWINGS|BY|HILARY|KNIGHT|A|BOOK|FOR||
|13. Image of Title Page||A11319990204233832.jpg|
|14. Manuscript Holdings||N/A|
|15. Other||Page one and page sixty-five are pink with an image and contain no text.|
The Title page is printed in a serif font, all capital lettering.
1990- available in both hard and soft cover
|Assignment 2: Publication History|
|1. Other Editions:||According to my searches on Bibliofind, Simon and Schuster published|
at least twenty-eight editions, however I was unable to obtain any definate
number as I have emailed the publisher and I am awaiting a response as to
the number of editions and the differences between them.
Simon and Schuster issued a Limited Edition in September of
1995. The book was bound in trade cloth, sixty-five pages
and sold for $100.00.
|4. First Edition printings or impressions?||Simon and Schuster published thirty five printings of the first |
|5. Editions from other publishers?||1957- Reinhardt, London|
1982- Gallimard, Paris
1982- Schoenof's Foriegn Books Incorporated, Paris
1983- Trumpet Club, New York
1990- Trumpet Club, New York
1991- Bucaneer Books Incorporated, New York
|6. Last date in print?||The most current date in print is September 1995.|
|7. Total copies sold?||To date, the book has sold more than one million copies.|
|8. Sales by year?||The book sold over 150,000 copies between the years of |
|9. Advertising copy:||In the September 17, 1955 issue of Publisher's Weekly, Simon|
and Schuster Publishing ran an ad announcing up coming books.
Eloise was among those listed to appear in October to be sold for
|11. Other promotion?||Kay Thompson created her own company entitled "Eloise Ltd." which |
marketed dolls, records, toys, luggage, clothes and post cards for
fans of the 1950's. Many department stores during December and January
of 1956 put on major promotions to market the Eloise line of clothing.
The participating stores were as follows:
New York-Bloomingdales, Lord and Taylor and FAO Schwatz
Philadelphia-Strawbridge and Clothier
San Fransico- J.W. Robinson
In addition, Jordon Marsh of Miami held a fashion show to
promote the clothing.
|12. Performances in other media?||During the spring of 1956 Kay Thompson went on television because|
she believed it to be "the most effective promotion medium"
(Publisher's Weekly 12/16/57|). During November and December
of 1957 Thompson was a guest on: the Dave Garroway,
Arlene Francis, and Tex Jinx Shows. On October 14, 1957
she attended the Nieman Marcus promotion for Eloise dresses
called "The French Fortnight" and appeared at the J.H Hudson
in Detroit's promotion.
|13. Translations?||(French) Eloise (with two dots over the "i"), Gallimard Publishers: Paris 1982|
(French) Eloise, Schoenof's Foriegn Books Incorporated: Paris 1982
|15. Sequels or Prequels?||There are four sequels to Eloise which are:|
Eloise in Paris, Simon and Schuster, New York 1957
Max Reinhardt Publishing, London 1958
Eloise at Christmas Time,Simon and Schuster, New York 1958
Random House, New York 1958
Reinhardt, London 1959
Eloise in Moscow, Simon and Schuster, New York 1959
Reinhardt, London 1960
Eloise Takes A Bawth, Simon and Schuster, New York 1964
Reinhardt, London 1965
|Assignment 3: Brief Biography|
| Kay Thompson may be best remembered for her |
creation of the character "Eloise," known as the
tiny terror of New York's Plaza Hotel in her series of
children's books, but she too, was a character in her
own right. Thompson was born the daughter of a
jeweler in St. Louis, Missouri on November 9, 1902
under her given name of Kitty Fink. She attended
Washington University in St. Louis, and later
pursued careers in acting, singing, writing and
acting as a musician (Celebrity Biographies). She was
married and divorced twice with no children, in the
1930's to Jack Jenney a band leader and later to
William Spier a radio writer and producer. Thompson enjoyed a diverse artistic life. She
began to play the piano when she was four and at age
fifteen played Liszt with the St. Louis Symphony
Orchestra. Two years later she left in search of fame
in California and occupied the position of a diving
instructor (The Daily Telegraph, 29). Soon afterwards
in 1935, she was hired as a vocal arranger and singer
for radio with Bing Crosby and the Mills Brothers and
later in New York, she created her own radio show,
"Kay Thompson and Company," featuring the comedian Jim
Backus. In 1937 after the demise of the radio show,
Thompson made her Broadway debut in, "Hooray for
What!" exhibiting the music of Harold Arlen and
lyrics by E Y "Yip" Harburg and her film debut in,
"Manhattan Merry-Go-Round." However she was fired
from the Broadway cast and hired in 1944 as a vocal
coach and arranger by MGM and worked on films such as
"The Ziegfeld Follies" (1946), "The Harvey
Girls"(1946) and "The Kid From Brooklyn" (1946)and
worked with Judy Garland and Lena Horne. In 1947, her
contract with MGM expired and she formed a night club
act with the Williams Brothers- a year later earning
$15,000 dollars a week in Miami. The nightclub act
traveled around the world for six years and broke up
in 1953, where upon Thompson created a clothing line
called "Kay Thompson's Fancy Pants" designed for tall
Eloise the main character of her books, was
thought up during her night club touring. When
Thompson appeared for rehearsal late (uncharacteristic of her),
she responded to the criticism of the band members by saying,
"all right, all right, I'm late. I'm Eloise and af'r all, I'm
only six" (The Daily Telegraph, 29)in a high childish voice.
Afterwards, the character of Eloise remained and she
would often perform the imitation for others. It was
only after DeDe Ryan of Harper's Bizarre convinced
Thompson to write a book about Eloise and introduced
her to illustrator Hilary Knight that "Eloise: A Book
For Precocious Grown-ups" was published in 1955
followed by the sequels, "Eloise in Paris," (1957)
"Eloise at Christmastime," (1958)and "Eloise in
Moscow" (1959).In 1957, Thompson was cast as the fashion
magazine editor in the movie "Funny Face," with
co-stars Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. Her only
other film was Otto Preminger's "Tell me That You Love
Me, Junie Moon" in 1970, staring Judy Garland's
Daughter and her god daughter Liza Minnelli. After
her last film she became reclusive, spending her time
in Rome and Manhattan's Upper East Side. Thompson died on July 2,1998 in Liza Minnelli's Manhattan
apartment at the estimated age of 95, as she never revealed her age
|It was difficult to find reviews written after Kay Thompson, (an actress|
by profession) published her first book "Eloise." I attribute this
to her unknown status at the time in the children's literary world.
However, the majority of the reviews following the sequels refer back
to "Eloise" and sing its praise. The book's popularity is manifested
as well through the consumer goods sold throughout the country.
The only review I could find that refered directly to Thompson's
first book "Eloise" is in the Saturday Review (which contains a
hint of prophecy when we examine the books reception history) which states,
"...Eloise skidded through the corridors (and through the revolving
doors) of New york's staid Hotel Plaza in the pages of a book
entitled "Eloise" and into the hearts of little girls all over the
country. As recent fictional children go, Eloise has a savior faire,
an impishness and a sales appeal which surpass any of her contemporaries."
The notion that the character of Eloise was able to gain popularity among
young girls universally attests to the book's overwhelming positive reception.
When Thompson published her second book, "Eloise in Paris"
(also a best seller)in 1957, crtics began to write collectively about
the books. Henry Green of the Chicago Sunday Tribune remarked,
"Hillary Knight has recorded these adventures with bubbling charm and a
fine eye for background detail. Kay Thompson is in rare form and Eloise is
all that can be expected by delighted readers of the earlier book," in
obvious praise for both "Eloise" and its sequel. Similarly, Sylvia
Stallings of the New york Herald Tribune states that, "A sequel
rarely comes up to the level of its original impulse, but in Eloise's case,
happily Miss Thompson and Knight seem to have turned the trick."
In contrast to the positive reviews, Robin Denniston of the Spectator
writes that the book's themes and humor are over done. Denniston writes,
"Let us be fair to the author and to Hillary knight, whose pictures are
more telling and rather less knowing than the text. The first few pages
will keep most people in stitches. But eventually laughter dies away. There
is only one joke, which is Eloise, and she is far too long sustained." Denniston
argues that the book's scope is too narrow and thus fails at an
attempt at humor."
In additon to the reviews, it is also important to examine the successful
promotional effort which marketed Eloise collectables. Not only was the
book widely applauded, but the consumer goods were very popular
(see section eleven of assignment two- "other promotions").
The Chicago Tribune December 22, 1957
The New york Herald December 15, 1957
The Saturday Review December 7, 1957
The Spectator November 20, 1958
|Kay Thompson's book "Eloise," published in 1955 about a mischievous|
6-year-old who lives at The Plaza Hotel, produced one of the most
recognizable characters in children's literature and one of the
most famous fictional New Yorkers.
The promotional craze, including Eloise dolls and clothing line
that occured in the late fifties continues into nineties and indicates
no end in sight for the positive reception of the book. According to
Rick Richer in 1998, of Simon and Schuster Publishing the book has sold
over one million copies to date and will continue to sell when the
collector's edition, "Eloise: The Essential Edition" is released
in May of 1999. In addition to the portrait of Eloise which still
hangs in the Plaza Hotel, the hotel was designated a "literary
landmark" on September 26, 1998. The events at the unveiling were:
a plaque hanging (sponsored by The Friends of Libraries USA, The Books
for Kids Foundation, and the Empire Friends of New York State
Libraries), an Eloise look-alike contest and a guest appearance
by Hillary Knight the illustrator.
In Kay Thompson's obituaries the author's all express a deep remorse
for her passing and are in agreement that her book for children and
adults alike, is a truly unique and timeless classic.
People Magazine July 20, 1998
The New York Times November 15, 1998
| The readiness of children to take into their hearts the books of their choice, while others apparently worthy lie neglected, has perplexed writers and publishers, booksellers and book buyers ever since the turn of the century. No formula will solve the uncertainty and the bewilderment of adults as to what children are looking for in the books they read. It cannot be confidently asserted that "children like this kind of book" or "children do not like that kind." There is a certain kind of magic in these "chosen" books that have earned their place on the self next to time worn classics such as Tom Sawyer and Alice in Wonderland, which enchants them much as the tune of the Pied Piper lured the children of old Hamelin. The essence from which it is distilled can best be discovered in those books which generations of children have taken into their hearts and have kept alive; books which seem to have an immortality that adult books, so soon superceded by the latest best-seller, seldom attain. Kay Thompson’s Eloise a Book for Precocious Grown Upspublished in 1955, has enjoyed close to fifty years of popularity because it appeals to both adults and children alike, hence it attracts a broader reader base than the average children’s book. First editions of the Eloise series are valued collector’s items usually priced well over one hundred dollars, and contemporary releases of limited editions continue the Eloise craze that began in the late fifties after the first publication. The book’s popularity can be attributed to Thompson’s exuberant six year old star Eloise, and Hillary Knight’s vivid illustrations which bring her to life. Eloise is widely known for her outrageous exploits in New York’s Plaza Hotel and is praised by readers and critics alike for her individualistic spirit. Her unusual circumstances appeal to young and old readers’ sense of fantasy and adventure. Eloise’s family structure and life-style in a hotel contrasts the suburban culture of the fifties encouraged by television sitcoms such as the "Donna Reed Show" and "Leave it to Beaver." The book’s popularity lies in its ability to transcend social norms of the 1950’s and to remain a relevant, yet playful commentary on contemporary gender roles and family structure. |
Thompson’s book manifests the long evolution of children’s literature beginning at the turn of the century. The years leading to 1910 reveal the decline of the didactic "good godly" books of the puritans and turns to an emphasis on educating children about American ideology. Children’s books instructed male heroes about manners, morals, history and geography and taught girls the importance of appropriate behavior in order to become "the perfect lady." Later in the decade children’s literature sees experiences beginning of the imaginative story as well as pictures which carry the story apart from text. Children were no longer expected to read literature aimed at adults, but rather were encouraged to develop their own sense of American ideals and their individuality within the country. The period between the years of 1925 and 1940 is entitled "The Golden Age of Children’s Literature" which exhibits a "volcanic eruption in book for boys and girls" (Smith, 39). After World War I there was an increase in the quality and production of books as a result of new printing press technology brought back from Europe. The upsurge of hope that the world was now safe for democracy and the notion that the time was ripe for attention to the things of the spirit encouraged innovative children’s literature. Subject matter for children’s books ranged from moral responsibility to international understanding (an issue supported by elementary school texts as well as in pleasure reading). American children were not only encouraged to embrace the cultural differences of children around the world, but also encouraged to understand the cultural differences within America which make up the country as a whole. In the 1930’s "real" American children begin to appear in books about the pioneers and the frontier. It is here that stories such as Caddie Woodlawn introduce the notion that girls can occupy non-traditional roles contrary to the established conventions at the beginning of the century. World War II during the 1940’s triggered a pro-reading movement in order to prevent the perversion of established values by outside sources. New books spoke of dignity of the individual and regard for the human spirit in relation to individual freedom. Comic children’s literature such as Curious George and books by Dr. Seuss, emerged for the first time in an effort to brighten the war years for little children. This movement was diluted by the fifties which experienced the rise of television and motion pictures as other mediums for children’s entertainment. Children’s authors of the fifties had to come up with a wide variety of subjects for children of all ages in order to maintain readership. Television made children more involved in the adult world than they had been previously, because they watched the same programs that the adults did and engaged in discussion with the adults about the programs. The advancement of technology and television encouraged interest in subjects such as submarines rather than red wagons thus gave way to a more sophisticated child reader than had been seen in the past. The children of the fifties were consumed with a desire to "know" and so there was a "two fold challenge: first, to spur the gifted on to greater heights and depths in reading, and second, to provide less difficult but mature and authentic materials for boys and girls whose age and level of maturity exceeded their ability to read. Another trend in the publishing of children’s books had its inception in the newly aroused public concern for the teaching of beginning reading and expansion of individual reading beyond the text book materials. One fortunate outcome of this movement was the appearance of attractive, lively, ‘easy’ books, controlled in vocabulary, yet full of interest and well illustrated at their best, but sometimes silly and insulting to the intelligence of children and wooden in story and illustration at their worst" (Smith, 63).
Eloise embodies the ideals of the movement within children’s literature of the 1950’s, through it’s simplistic nature yet socially relevant themes. In addition, the book reflects the evolution of children’s literature throughout the century, in both its structural and thematic presentation. The "perfecting of the picture book" which evolved throughout the century, no doubt aided Eloise in holding the child’s interest during the initial stages of learning to read. Eloise in many ways is the new female American who, after the settling of the west and two world wars is a far cry from the "perfect lady." The book reveals the changed attitudes towards children and the process of growing up. Children are now treated with respect by authors as they were neither talked "at" nor "down to." Forces within them were to be stimulated through imaginative presentation of experience and not through preaching and moralizing. Eloise represents a real human personality rather than a type and subtly introduces the notion of diversity within a society trying to impose conformity through social establishments such as suburbia.In retrospect, we can see that Eloise is one of the first "modern females" because Thompson frees her from gender roles defined by sexism, during a time when sexism was not entirely discussed or defined. Very few female characters in children’s literature displayed Eloise’s individual characteristics that one might term as "feminist" today. Her socially liberated persona and her non-traditional family structure make her an ancestor of the children of the late eighties and nineties as well as an intriguing character even for readers today. Sexism is defined as "the predetermination of people’s choices in life on the basis on sex, without regard to individual differences" by the Joint Organizations Seminar Discussion Papers of the three Victorian Teacher’s Unions in September of 1975 and typical female characteristics include: dependence, passivity, fragility, subjectivity and over empathic tendencies. Eloise does not embody the traditional characteristics that previous female characters in children’s literature personified, but rather exhibits male characteristics such as: independence, aggression, leadership, task orientation, courageousness and confidence (Wignell, 9). Eloise, through the inversion of gender roles, offers the girl reader a positive image of woman’s physical, emotional and intellectual potential by encouraging her to reach her own full person hood, free of traditionally imposed limitations. However, the author’s circumspection not to shock her contemporary readers by straying too radically from the social norms also attributes to the popularity of the book. Eloise displays some of the archetypal characteristics of a socialized female child through her dress and hair ribbon as well as her ownership of dolls. She wears a typical female outfit, but is not the picture of physical beauty (as seen by her untidy hair and attire) like many of her literary counterparts. This allows female readers to identify with her, yet also admire her individuality and vibrant spirit. The lack of traditional parental influence in Eloise, makes the book a thematic predecessor and serves as commentary to the renewed interest in parenting techniques of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Attention to child raising strategies emerged during the turn of the twentieth century, because families migrated to the cities from rural areas. Since fathers were no longer in the home during the day due to urban jobs, women became the head of households and the primary parent in charge of child rearing. Many pamphlets and "experts" in the area of child study began to appear, thus the permissive and laissez-fare child rearing era of the previous century was over. The parent-education movement developed into a "well-organized social movement" and reached millions of people for the first time. A utilization of scientific methods in the 1920’s replaced prior reliance on biblical references in regard to child raising. As the movement grew, and as parenthood lead to increasing frustration, the number of parent-education programs increased as a result of the studies conducted by experts such as Skinner, Spock, Ginott, and Dreikurs (Smith, 96). The civil rights and the women’s movement of the 1960’s brought with them a social awareness of the changing roles of parents. Federal legislation and funding encouraged parenting programs and studies about alternative family life-styles. Eloise, published at the tail end of the "baby boom" reflects the beginning of the nation’s recognition of nontraditional families and life-style variations. In the 1930’s through the 1950’s, sociological studies of the single parent families multiplied. These studies were primarily about single mothers and their problems intrinsic in single parenting and the effect of the father’s absence on children.
Eloise’s situation is unique even among the social deviant families of the time. Her family structure differs from the majority of single parent American families, because the sole parent does not head the family, but rather entrusts Eloise’s upbringing to "Nanny." Additionally, Eloise does not suffer from the economic hardships that studies have shown most single parent families endure. According to studies of the time, "Employment is the major source of income for single mothers; two out of every three are in the work force" (Hamner, 194). It is not clear from the text whether Eloise’s mother is independently wealthy (Eloise tells us that she own a considerable amount of AT&T stock) or whether she works at an easily defined job. If we assume that she is independently wealthy and leaves her child to live in a hotel with a nanny, the scenario becomes so unusual that it is the result of an unrealistic eccentric family, rather than reflective of the struggling families of the time. In this way, Thompson puts a humorous and positive spin on an unfortunate situation. She quietly comments on society while keeping the subject matter light in order to avoid alienating her reader, and instead attempts to ignite imagination and fantasy within the common adult and child reader. However, if we rise above the book’s apparent light hearted nature, it is clear that Eloise is a child without a real home and family and yet apparently happy. Thompson places Eloise’s home within a public area, to comment on the literary trend throughout the century of the "separation of spheres." For Eloise, there is no distinction between the public and the private realms, because her home incorporates the two. Thompson’s failure to mention a father influence, as well as Eloise’s mother’s absence, negate the traditional notion of mother in the home and father in the workplace. Moreover, she is a product of public life rather than of family life because she spends her days in the hotel attending public events. Her precocious attributes are derived from her daily interaction with adults rather than with children of her own age. It is interesting to note that Eloise actually attends debutante balls and weddings; coming of age events for upper class girls, yet imagines that she attends a General Motors meeting. Thompson is again careful not to be too overt with her social commentary through support of accepted socialization procedures and norms. We can infer from this that Eloise’s independence and unusual characteristics for a girl of the 1950’s, are a result of her liberation from the traditional home based within the "cult of domesticity."The book was a best seller in the 50’s because Thompson introduced new characteristics to the female character on the brink of social reformation, and remains popular today because Eloise embodies many of the characteristics women continue to strive to attain. Thompson’s caution in openly introducing radical social ideas attributes to the book’s popularity because it allows readers to absorb change in ideology, rather than abruptly force them to accept the change. Eloise appeals to both children and adults because she is an assertive and independent female child, yet retains her sense of imagination common to most children her age. Regardless of whether or not Eloise is seen as a child within a healthy environment, her introduction of new gender roles and family structure is emblematic of social reformation which began during the late fifties and continues today.
Hamner, Tommie J. Parenting in Contemporary Society. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1990.
Smith, Dora V. Fifty Years of Children’s Books. Champaign: The National Council of Teachers of English, 1963.
Wignell, Edna. Boys Whistle Girls Sing. Richmond: Primary Education Publishing, 1976.
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