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Lost in the library: Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House

View of the inside of the library in Queen Mary's dolls house
Queen Mary's dolls' house

Queen Mary's dolls' house ©

When Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House was built in the 1920s, it contained everything that a comfortable house would need, even electric lights and running water! It included a library of nearly 600 books, many of which were handwritten by the most famous authors of the time

Did you know that some of the authors who wrote for the library of Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House liked to think that fairies would live in the little house and read their books? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, also wrote about how he could prove fairies exist. He believed he had seen them in photographs taken in a garden in Cottingley, near Bradford!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a new Sherlock Holmes story, called How Watson Learned the Trick, for the Dolls’ House. In the story, Dr Watson tries to show Holmes that he can be just as good at solving cases, but he gets it all wrong!

Miniature book next to full sized book

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, How Watson Learned the Trick, 1922 ©

Have a go!

The Dolls’ House manuscripts were made of tiny sheets of paper about 4cm high and 7cm wide. These were all folded in half to make pages 4cm high and 3.5cm wide, and then the pages were gathered together into booklets. The authors wrote their stories in the little books by hand (if they could write so small!) and the books were bound up with leather covers afterwards. Each book was given a tiny bookplate designed by E. H. Shepard, who illustrated Winnie-the-Pooh.

It is easy to make a miniature book. Download our craft sheet and experience a taste of what it is like to be a bookbinder in the Royal Bindery.

Once you have made your miniature book, you need to fill it. You can fill it with whatever you like – words or pictures. Maybe you would like to give it to someone as a gift.

If you want a challenge, why not see if you can write a miniature story? A tweet on Twitter cannot be more than 280 letters (approximately 50 words). Can you tell a story in a tweet? Try to give it a beginning, a middle and an end. Will you have one character or several? Will it be happy, sad or funny? This is harder than you think! Even the authors of books in Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House would find it a challenge. Good luck!

If you are proud of your story and decide to tweet it, please tag us using @RCT – we would love to read it!

Craft sheet

Make a mini book

Creative Writing Resource

Discover more about the books in the Dolls’ House library below. You might even like to find them to read yourself.