The Enid Blyton Society
Naughty Amelia Jane!
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Book Details...

First edition: 1939
Publisher: George Newnes
Illustrator: Sylvia I. Venus
Category: Amelia Jane
Genre: Fantasy
Type: Short Story Books

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
List of Contents
Artwork
Review by Terry Gustafson

Reprints
  1. Naughty Amelia Jane!
    Story: Sunny Stories No.3 Jan 29, 1937
  2. Amelia Jane Gets a Shock [Amelia Jane Again!]
    Story: Sunny Stories No.19 May 21, 1937
  3. Amelia Jane at the Sea [Amelia Jane in Trouble Again!]
    Story: Sunny Stories No.28 Jul 23, 1937
  4. Amelia Jane and the Cowboy Doll
    Story: Sunny Stories No.64 Jan 1, 1938
  5. Amelia Jane and the Plasticine [Oh, Amelia Jane!]
    Story: Sunny Stories No.57 Feb 11, 1938
  6. Stop it, Amelia Jane!
    Story: Sunny Stories No.78 Jul 8, 1938
  7. Amelia Jane Up the Chimney
    Story: Sunny Stories No.92 Oct 14, 1938
  8. Amelia Jane and the Soap
    Story: Sunny Stories No.100 Dec 9, 1938
  9. Amelia Jane and the Snow
    Story: Sunny Stories No.105 Jan 13, 1939
  10. Amelia Jane Goes Mad
    Story: Sunny Stories No.114 Mar 17, 1939
  11. Amelia Jane and the Matches
    Story: Sunny Stories No.119 Apr 21, 1939
[ ] indicates the original title


Cover of the 1st edition illustrated by Sylvia I. Venus
Amelia Jane is described as a big, long-legged doll with an ugly face, a bright red frock, and long black curls. The fact that she had been made at home rather than bought from a shop is her excuse for having no manners at all.

Big? Yes, one can safely say that Amelia Jane is about the biggest toy in the nursery and that gives her an advantage because it's hard to combat naughtiness in a doll who towers over everyone else - unless there's a combining of forces.

Long-legged? Yes, she has fairly long legs.

Ugly face? Don't think that's quite right although some of the later artists have portrayed her that way. The Dean books show her with quite a pleasant face, and the pictures by Rene Cloke give her a mischievous look every now and again. The Sylvia Venus drawings depict her as fairly good-looking although her "long black curls" vary from black, to grey, to blonde, and I'm sure the original Amelia Jane doll would appeal to any child.

Amelia Jane does wear a red frock in the available colour pictures, and the 'long black curls' seem true to form.
There are brownies living in the bushes below the nursery windows and they often climb inside to play with the toys so there's usually plenty going on and Amelia Jane sees to it that she gets her fair share of the good times. The only trouble is that she gets her kicks by playing tricks and annoying the other toys in various ways. Do you know, she once put a bee in a matchbox and handed it to the sailor doll when he wanted some matches to light his pipe! She's also pushed the teddy bear into the goldfish bowl before today, and even poured milk down the golliwog's neck, so that gives a fair indication of her leanings.

In the first tale she gets loose with a pair of scissors and you can only imagine the damage she causes which includes snipping of the pink-rabbit's tail! Before she can get stuck into cutting the golliwog's hair off so that he'll "look like a black Chinaman," a little justice is dispensed by the brownies who feel rather sorry for the afflicted toys. Later on, an opportunity comes to reciprocate the favour when the brownies are attacked by goblins and, as weird as it sounds, Amelia Jane becomes a heroine!

Chapter Two proves that the big doll can't suppress her mischievous nature for long and, abandoning any credit she may have gained in the first story, Amelia Jane gets stuck into sewing up the sleeves of the teddy bear's new coat before causing mayhem by mewing like Tibs so that everyone starts searching the nursery to find where the cat is hiding. After she starts squirting the toys with a soda syphon a 'Council of War' is held and the situation is debated. The clockwork clown comes up with an idea and follows it through so that when Amelia Jane starts chasing everyone with a pin, she ends up experiencing a rather 'bumpity-bump' time. She's well aware that her manners are bad and in this story she actually voices the fact that her naughtiness is due to being a homemade doll.

The next tale involves a trip to the seaside and Amelia Jane immediately thinks up all kinds of mischievous things to inflict upon her companions when they arrive. You've got to wonder about that doll because she seems to get great delight in being plain nasty - perhaps she has an inferiority complex although I can't see why because she's the biggest doll in the nursery. The golliwog suffers. The brown teddy bear suffers. The clockwork clown suffers and the golden-haired doll suffers, so Amelia Jane is being true to her prefix, i.e. 'Naughty.' She's her own worst enemy though and after Karmic Law provides a little balance the toys, who are very kind and forgiving, help her out and Amelia Jane turns over a new leaf - for five minutes or so!

What nursery inhabitants wouldn't like to have a cowboy doll come and stay for a few days? Well, it happens and there's a nice picture of the visitor lassoing the clock-work mouse - under Amelia Jane's instigation of course. The big doll now wants to learn how to lasso so that she can add it to her list of toy-annoying skills and the cowboy doll, who is not averse to a bit of annoying himself, teaches her. Once again ... it's more pain, from Amelia Jane. Unfortunately, or perhaps 'fortunately,' she lassos something that causes her some unhappiness. Good!

Do they still make plasticine? The spell-checker doesn't approve of such a word so perhaps the stuff has gone from our nurseries, but in 1939 Amelia Jane managed to get hold of some and then got stuck into creating a few novel ways to use it. There's entertainment galore as she fools the toys, but they achieve their revenge by turning Amelia-Jane's idea right back on her.

"You might think the big doll would grow out of her bad ways." Such a thought is actually espoused at the beginning of the next story but we all know it's pretty futile to entertain such an idea. What's the point of telling Amelia Jane to "Stop It," but there's the title laid out - 'Stop It, Amelia Jane.' Good God, the big doll has got hold of a pop-gun. That's one of those devices with a cork that fits into the barrel and when the trigger is pulled a burst of pressure pops the cork out to hit the target. Often, for safety's sake, the cork has a piece of string attaching it to the end of the barrel so that it doesn't hit someone in the eye. Doesn't take much brain matter to imagine what Amelia Jane would do with a gun because we're all aware of her mischievous nature. The word to apply is 'Rampage!' You can just see her shooting everyone and everything in sight and the toys really have to don their thinking caps to rid themselves of the big doll's latest craze

Is there nothing that Amelia Jane won't stop at? In the next story she dresses a kitten in dolls' clothes and then holds up a mirror. When the poor creature sees itself thus attired there's a mad dash for freedom but the door's closed so the only place to run is up the chimney. Eventually Amelia Jane climbs in as well to rescue the moggy because it seems to be stuck. Enter the 'Sweep.' That's a trade that might have disappeared from our communities, but back in the Thirties chimney sweeps existed and now Amelia Jane, plus the poor kitten, are due for a shock.

In the next tale, Amelia Jane is into skating but lacking the gear, she improvises and wakes up Nurse when she decides to skate along the passage in the dead of night. The big bad doll ends up with a torn dress ... but not from skating!

Chapter IX is about Amelia Jane getting up to her tricks when it starts to snow. Toys tend to fall over when snowballs are chucked at them so life is not all that good for the clockwork-mouse and the clown, not to mention the curly-haired doll. Amelia Jane's enjoying herself though and when the kitten distracts her attention, the other toys are given a respite and they decide to construct a snow house for themselves. They labour away and when it's finished they enjoy sitting inside and looking out the window but trouble races it's ugly head ... 'That Doll' wants to enter, and as she's so big, the others have to exit while she squeezes in. So much for their lovely house, and now they're out in the cold again. Amelia Jane is cold as well because she didn't listen to the toys when they advised her to wear thick clothing, but she suddenly thinks of an idea to warm herself up. A stupid idea!

Is Amelia Jane mad? In this story, she certainly goes a long way towards proving it, but in reality, 'madness' is simply a descriptive way of explaining her propensity for playing gags on the other toys, such as emptying a watering can over the golliwog to make him think it's raining. In fact, it must be her 'water' phase because the next thing she does is to spurt the curly-haired doll by holding her fingers over the washbasin tap. It means extra work now for the 'straight-haired' doll, because she'll have to put her hair in curlers this evening seeing the water made her curl disappear! Some remedial action needs to be taken and when the clockwork mouse has a brilliant idea, it's Amelia Jane's turn to suffer.

The final tale involves matches. From an early age, children are warned about playing with matches and the same advice is taught to toys because anything that can be used to make a fire can be very dangerous. Think of it ... a child with a box of matches could theoretically destroy a whole house so they are best left alone and to be used only for starting the sitting room fire or perhaps lighting a pipe when the man of the house sits down to read the paper. Well, Amelia Jane gets hold of some and anyone who knows the way her mind works will be able to visualize what might eventuate. It does, and the clockwork mouse suffers the most, but at least Amelia Jane does her best to neutralize the danger. At the end of the story there's 'Great' news - by 'Great' I mean 'Really' Great! Amelia Jane tells the toys she'll never be naughty again.

What would you think about that?
Amelia Jane goes right back to the late 1930's so she's an 'Old Hand' in the Blyton collection.

In her autobiography Enid Blyton described Amelia Jane as having corkscrew hair, big loose limbs and a wicked face. She was a doll given to the author's elder daughter (Gillian) and it appears that Enid Blyton sometimes sat Amelia Jane on her knee at meal-times and manipulated her to such good effect that her daughters thought the doll was really acting up. "Put her in a story," Gillian had said - and so it came to pass.

A soda syphon (Story #2, & #10) is a container of aerated water. If you add 'soda water' to cordial it makes it taste like soft drink. 'Effervescent' is a good one-word description.

The cowboy doll keeps his lasso tied round his waist.

Plasticine is a kind of putty used for modelling things, as one would with clay. Children used it a lot in the past, and maybe they still do.

The situation that occurred in the final story could be blamed partly on Jane. No, not 'Amelia Jane,' but Jane the maid. She accidentally left some matches on the mantelpiece instead of putting them back in her apron pocket after she'd lit the nursery fire. How does the sailor doll light his pipe on a normal day, one might ask. Perhaps he uses toy matches!

It's interesting to see how artists can change their style as years go by. The Sylvia Venus illustrations in the 'Amelia Jane' series are drawn in a totally different way from her pictures in earlier books. An example in question would be the EB poem called 'The Good Little Girl' (Merry Moments Annual' 1925). Unfortunately the illustrations are not on the EBS website but if a copy of the book is hunted down in a library or museum the differences can be studied; it's almost as if the pictures for Amelia Jane and The Good Little Girl were done by two different artists and, what's more, Sylvia's earlier drawings seem a little more professional than her later ones.

The Stuart Trotter pics are pretty basic - you can see an example of his work in the Cave of Books (EBS website) under 'Amelia Jane Again' (1992). The cover picture is the best of the bunch - probably because the others are black and white.