Friday, May 28, 2010

A kindred spirit

 One of my favourite doll house books is The Vivien Green Doll's House Collection, by Vivien Green with Margaret Towner.

Vivien Greene (née Dayrell-Browning) (1 August 1905 - 19 August 2003) was the widow of the distinguished novelist Graham Greene and an authority on doll's houses.

In the 1960s Greene gave her the money to build the Rotunda, a doll's house museum at her home near Oxford. By the mid-1990s, the Rotunda contained some 41 miniature castles, cottages and manors, all furnished down to the last tiny piece of porcelain. Her collection was auctioned off in London in 1998 (from

Read more here: Escape from the dolls' house

 Drawn from Vivien Greene's world-famous collection of English dolls' houses, this book offers an illustrated view of all the houses in this unique museum, alongside Vivien Greene's own memories and interpretations.

I was delighted to find this book at the local flea market for a reasonable price. I pour over the pictures and commentary anytime I have a few idle moments to fill. It breaks my heart to know that her wonderful collection was sold and the museum no longer exists. How I would have loved to visit it.

Vivien Dayrell-Browning Greene died in Oxfordshire, aged 98. What an interesting life she had.

From her obituary in The Inependent Thursday, 21 August 2003

Vivien Greene was a pioneer in this branch of social history, and recognised that in miniature there can survive a record of what has so often been destroyed in full-size. The 18th and 19th centuries were a distinct era, between the end of toy-free Puritanism and the onset of jerry-built items themselves supplanted by the soulless use of plastic. Vivien Greene was often called upon to catalogue items, such as one at West Dean House in Sussex.

Her first book prompted so many requests to visit that she was inspired to build a large, elegant Rotunda - subsidised by Graham - on the side of her home at Grove House, Iffley Turn. A catalogue of the doll's house collection appeared in 1995. Such is the inevitable tendency of chroniclers to dwell upon her husband that many forget that, more than a solace, this all enabled her most happily "to combine having a loved permanent home and indulging, in miniature, my enjoyment of all kinds and periods of English domestic architecture and decoration". To her, "collecting is not acquiring. It is more like planning a delightful small party, where everyone will find a friend and feel at home". 

This last quote sounds exactly like our blogging community. I am certainly enjoying the party.



1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this, I had never heard of her before. :)