In 1916 The Three-in-One doll, Doll Pottery Company was opened. This was one of the few companies set up in England during the First World War to produce ceramic doll parts when German dolls were not available.

This doll is known as the Three-in-One doll as it has three different heads that go with one body. Not only is the doll multi-faced, it is also multi-gendered and multi-racial. Two heads are white girls with blonde hair and the third is a black boy.

-Source: The Museum of Childhood. V & A Museum. London.

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1. The Artist
Elsa couldn’t believe she was being paid to do this. They would never have given this job to a woman before but there were no longer any men around. She took the job very seriously and painted each doll’s face with the same care Faberge would have taken over his eggs. With her skilled hand, the happy faces on the black boy and the white girl dolls, exuded pure joy and delight to anyone who looked at them. She struggled at first with the sad faces, there was more than enough sadness around at the moment. Eventually, she looked deep within herself and painted on the dolls the sadness that was already there.

The manager came to inspect her work. He instantly approved of the sad dolls and the happy white dolls. He viewed the happy black dolls with a grimace.
“Now then, who told you to paint the black dolls happy? We can’t have them looking happier than the white dolls now, can we?”

Elsa would have liked to have painted a black eye on his face right there and then but she needed this job. Instead, she dutifully wiped the smiling faces off the black dolls. After the factory owner had left she re-painted them with a more passive face, hiding just a hint of mischief.
2. The Child.
Her father gave Emily the doll just before he left for France. He told her he only wanted the doll to wear its happy face. He only wanted Emily to wear her happy face until he returned. He kissed Emily, he also kissed the doll and then he left.

Emily held the doll along with her suitcase and gas mask as she stood at the station. Now it was her Mother who was saying goodbye. She told Emily what a lucky girl she was going on such an adventure. Emily did not feel lucky.
Emily watched her mother smiling brightly and waving goodbye with her handkerchief as the train pulled away from the platform. Emily was leaving London, being packed off to the refuge of the country to stay with her Aunt. She held her doll close. With its cold white porcelain face and stiff arms and legs it was a very poor substitute for her mother and father.
3. The Mother.
The moment the train had pulled out of the station the mother removed the smiling face that she had been wearing completely against her will. She would only ever wear her sad face now, until the day that her husband and her child would be returned to her. If they ever would.

Liz Haigh lives in Cheshire in the UK. She works at a university library, which is her dream job because she loves books.
Most of her published work thus far has been in the form of book reviews which have appeared in Red, Prima, Woman
and Home and regularly in Women's Weekly (UK print editions). She recently had a very interesting article published
in Gardener's Weekly, all about  men and their garden sheds.

My story started its life at a weekly flash contest in a great on-line writer's group I am a member of over at It was Sara Crowley who provided the wonderful prompt about the history of the Doll Pottery Company in England. My story grew from there. It received some great reviews and feedback, which helped me with a thorough edit before I submitted it to Foundling Review. The rest as they say is history!



Copyright 2009