ten little what!?

Not done with Golly yet.  When I first looked into what the heck that was, I was led to a website for collectors of Golly memorabilia.  I saw Golly as a doctor, an astrounaut, all sorts of things, so I thought “Maybe he isn’t really racist because he doesn’t seem to be held back by his color or regulated to a station of servitude.  He’s achieving things.”  Short-lived thought, for next i was led to this site http://www.golliwogg.co.uk/racism.htm

For the past four decades Europeans have debated whether the Golliwog is a lovable icon or a racist symbol. In the 1960s relations between Blacks and Whites in England were often characterised by conflict. This racial antagonism resulted from many factors, including: the arrival of increasing numbers of coloured immigrants; minorities’ unwillingness to accommodate themselves to old patterns of racial and ethnic subordination; and, the fear among many Whites that England was losing its national character. British culture was also influenced by images – often brutal – of racial conflict occurring in the United States.

The claim that Golliwogs are racist is supported by literary depictions by writers such as Enid Blyton. Unlike Florence Upton’s, Blyton’s Golliwogs were often rude, mischievous, elfin villains. Blyton, one of the most prolific European writers, included the Golliwogs in many stories, but she only wrote three books primarily about Golliwogs: The Three Golliwogs (1944), The Proud Golliwog (1951), and The Golliwog Grumbled (1953). Her depictions of Golliwogs are, by contemporary standards, racially insensitive. An excerpt from The Three Golliwogs is illustrative:

Once the three bold Golliwogs, Golly, Woggie, and Nigger, decided to go for a walk to Bumble-Bee Common. Golly wasn’t quite ready so Woggie and Nigger said they would start off without him, and Golly would catch them up as soon as he could. So off went Woggie and Nigger, arm-in-arm, singing merrily their favourite song – which, as you may guess, was Ten Little Nigger Boys.

Ten Little Niggers is the name of a children’s poem, sometimes set to music, which celebrates the deaths of ten Black children, one-by-one. The Three Golliwogs was reprinted as recently as 1968, and it still contained the above passage. Ten Little Niggers was also the name of a 1939 Agatha Christie novel, whose cover showed a Golliwog lynched, hanging from a noose.












At first I was just going to post this photo as something I don’t like.  Why on earth are these white people wearing sambo on their sweaters?  Homemade sweaters at that!  Then I figured I should look into this.  Oh boy!  This is Golly.  You could buy this pattern today on ebay.  Golly began as golliwogg in Florence Kate Upton’s 1895 book “The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwogg.” Upton, a native New Yorker, first describes him as “a horrid sight, the blackest gnome.”  He was a caricature of American black faced minstrels – in effect, the caricature of a caricature. The book became very popular in England and thirteen books featuring Golliwogg were published.  Then they began making rag dolls. During the first half of the twentieth century, the Golliwog doll was a favourite children’s soft toy in Europe. Only the Teddy Bear exceeded the Golliwog in popularity.


Small children slept with their black dolls. Many White Europeans still speak with nostalgic sentiment about their childhood gollies. Now onto Robertson’s. The Golliwog is inextricably linked with the famous English preserves company, James Robertson & Sons. Robertson’s Jams has been using the smiling Golliwog as its logo since the 1920s until it was discontinued in 2001. Despite much criticism during the 1960s and ’70s, they simply changed their logo’s name to ‘Golly’, and continued to stand by their trusty mascot. Consequently, the collecting of Robertson’s Golly memorabilia is a hobby in itself, with a vast array of promotional material and items to be collected.