Milly Molly Mandy ~ My Simple Living Heroine

I've just spent a happy hour reading Milly Molly Mandy stories and found them to be the perfect cure for a bad case of discontent.

 Too much time spent looking at interior and lifestyle blogs (mostly Scandinavian) had me making a list of things my home lacked. After a couple of pages I realised that to achieve the desired look of timeless, pared down simplicity I would not only need pots of money but also would need to replace all the man-made surfaces in my home with natural ones. This would include new windows, floors and kitchen and possibly a new house. I resolved to stop wanting stuff and be happy with what I had. I had Milly Molly Mandy.


Milly Molly Mandy whose real name was of course Millicent Margaret Amanda lived sometime in the 20s or 30s in a small English village with her family. She was the creation of Joyce Lankester Brisley who wrote and illustrated the stories. The illustrations are black and white. The colour has been added by me, not when I was a child but when I bought copies of the books for my daughter about 5 years ago. I never could resist colouring them in, and I bet I wasn't the only one.

My favourite picture was always the map at the front of each book showing the village where Milly Molly Mandy lived. Click on the picture to see it bigger.


Milly Molly Mandy's world was one of simple childhood pleasures; a day spent fishing in the stream with Billy Blunt, sledging in the snow, camping out in the field, blackberrying, cooking potatoes and sausages on a bonfire, running down to the village shop for a quarter of raspberry drops or aniseed balls, making a patchwork tea cosy, writing letters to a pen pal, picking mushrooms in the early morning dew, eating 'lid potatoes' in front of the fire with Little Friend Susan.


Here they are, Milly Molly Mandy and Little Friend Susan off blackberrying sensibly dressed in stout boots with walking sticks to hook down the brambles. Mother waves goodbye untroubled by thoughts of child molesters or speeding cars, she's deciding what to do with the blackberries -jam, jelly, tarts, stewed with apple....


Isn't this just the perfect kitchen? Look how uncluttered this room is. Nothing in it that isn't necessary.


My favourite story -Milly Molly Mandy Has a Surprise. The surprise is that the little storeroom used for storing the jam is converted to become Milly Molly Mandy's very own bedroom. How I love the colour scheme -primrose yellow walls and apple green curtains, coverlet and dresser and a yellow pot of nasturtiums on the windowsill. I must get round to colouring this one in. Look how few things a child needs to be happy.



The treehouse constructed by Uncle in a hollow oak tree. What a wonderful den although I expect modern recommendations would be to have a handrail on that ladder.


Fyring onions. Here Milly Molly Mandy, Little Friend Susan and Billy Blunt are alone in the cottage frying onions on a range which doesn't appear to have any kind of safety guard. They also have bread and dripping to eat which is surely a health risk. Heavens! Billy Blunt even has a penknife and he is clearly no where near his 16th birthday I'm not sure he's even over 10!

It is the descriptions of food that I love best in these stories. Milly Molly Mandy food is plain, simple and  appetising. The perfect antidote to the current obsession with the new and the novel, the treat-y and the luxurious. Do I need After Eight cookies, goat's cheese in puff pastry, marinated olives, coconut curry or strawberry meringues? All I really need is a packet of bread and butter, a hard-boiled egg, an apple and perhaps a slab of Muvver's fruit cake to round it off.


Simple

Milly Molly Mandy books are here and you can read about some of the food from the books in Jane Brocket's lovely book Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer. And now I'm off to make a big currant cake for my children to enjoy with a glass of milk.

Comments

  1. Aaaaah! Milly Molly Mandy! Read a few of these in my time! Lovely books! I also LOVED Enid Blyton when I was younger and luckily so does my nine year old daughter now!

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  2. Ah childhood memories I was an avid reader of MMM. Now thats made me think.

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  3. Yes, totally agree. MMM, Faraway Tree and all the EBlyton stories - wonderful, innocent and warm. And just as you say, people had what they needed but not a lot more. Contentment should be bottled.

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  4. Anonymous3:02 pm BST

    I loved Milly-Molly-Mandy too but my favourite books from childhood are the Little House ones. They really do show a simple way of life, with the family struggling to survive as pioneers. I must get them out to re-read again.

    Sue (aka snoozer)

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  5. I've just found yur blog today. I'll be back to read it all when I've time. Lovely!

    Tracey

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  6. What a sweet series. I also get out a set like yours at times when my brain can no longer take 'the big people world'. It is, as stated from Sue above, The Little House books. It makes me smile to think about it and thank you for reminding me it is time to get them out again.

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  7. I've been reading MMM to my youngest. It's more of a treat for me, I think. It's the pared down simplicity of their lives which appeals. And the way the smallest happening is an adventure of sorts. Had there been such things in the 30's, I am sure MMM would have made a perfect blogger.

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  8. Anonymous7:28 pm BST

    I have looked at my home with discontented eyes in the past. It takes just a little nudge in the right direction to see all your usual things in a loving light.
    The key to contentment is not to have what you want but to simply want what you have.
    I hope you have a peaceful week.
    Julie x.

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  9. brilliant post, brought back a lot of memories - I used to dream about a bedroom like that ..

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  10. I've recently bought a Milly Molly Mandy omnibus after reading about it on someone's blog - yours maybe? I never came across these books as a child but loved Enid Blyton books. I really enjoyed this post, my own childhood had similar freedom thank goodness, I was born in 1946 and spent my time doing very similar things to MMM, I certainly learnt to knit with rainbow wool and went to the little local shop on my own to buy it too. It was more than a penny though by the early 50s when I was buying it.

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  11. Oh these stories were enourmous favoruties of mine - and I too loved the one about getting her own room because I hankered after a space to call my own when I was a child too(eventually I got one at 17!)

    I'd forgotten about the lovely illustrations, thanks for sharing. They bring back lovely memories.
    Stephx

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  12. Love your post today. I didn't read the Milly Mooly mandy stories but just love d the little House books and then the Chalet School books when I was a little older. Thankyou for reminding us about all of these favourites

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  13. Oh how I loved Milly Molly Mandy when I was a child (I was bought it because my name is Amanda, and my mum's name is Margaret!) Ooooh I loved it so much and now I'm going to have to try and find a copy to read myself!

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  14. Do you know I have never read a Milly Molly and Mandy book, but I do love the pictures you have shared and I think I may have to search a few books out - just for my girls mind you (uh huh!!)

    Nina x

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  15. Being Irish, I hadn't heard of the MMM books before... I must check them out, my little princess would love them!

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  16. i have my very own milly molly mandy look-a-like at home - if only her mother was so picturesque!

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  17. Hi Sue - just found your blog via little pink room - love your Milly, Molly Mandy post, I loved her as a child, not sure my two boys would be too hooked on her :(

    Love your blog and was interested in your eat less moved more page, i too wish I could loose a bit of weight and find home baking a constant battle of will!

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  18. Can't wait for Smaller Bean to get into MMM. A few years wait but I'm all ready! Ax

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  19. Anonymous7:00 pm BST

    I adore MMM books and they are quite possibly one of the reasons that we lived in a small thatched cottage when my children were young. Both my son and daughter enjoyed the stories and we loved to refer to the map as we followed MMM's daily "adventures".
    Afterwards we moved on to the Swallows and Amazons!

    Tine

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  20. So glad to have found another MMM fan - and I especially love the Surprise story too. There was something about apple green and primrose yellow...

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  21. what a fab posting. Yes, the Health and Safety Executive would have a ball with this one!

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  22. I only found your blog today and I've spent a happy hour skiving off from the ironing! Now why didn't I think of colouring in the pictures? (guess what I'll be doing tonight in between Casualty and crochet - lol!)
    Thanks for a good read.
    Lynn.

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  23. Anonymous2:47 pm BST

    I knitted a Milly Molly Mandy doll for my son some 35 years ago she got carried everywhere with him - he has asked me to knit one for his daughter but I no longer have a pattern . If anyone can help me I would be so grateful.
    cvcassidy@hotmail.com

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  24. Hello, I stumbled upon your blog while looking up info about Joyce Lankester Brisley. This post sums up everything I feel about M M M. I read the books as a child, then to my own children and now that they've grown up, I'm still reading M M M stories! Such simple, gentle tales...I love them! Thank you for this lovely, lovely post. I see my bloggy-friend Lynn also visited you. So many of us loving M M M! :)

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  25. I am really loving reading this book, and I am so pleased to find out I am not the only one who is colouring the delightful illustrations in, lol :) xxx

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  26. Anonymous7:50 pm BST

    I'M 72, and I can tell you, I loved the Milly-Molly-Mandy stories at school. Over the years, whenever I was in a stressful situation or time, I would remember those lovely, simple stories, and it would give me peace of mind.

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  27. I used to love these stories when I was a kid (the 1980s). My favourites were probably the one where MMM and Billy made a mini garden in a pot to enter in a garden fete competition and the one where she bought things for a penny and then sold the proceeds to get the penny back and re-spend it. Very enterprising.

    Your comments about the dangers in the kitchen made me smile, I remember there was also one where she got locked in her room all day because the door knob fell off - what if there'd been a fire? :D

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  28. What a lovely blog! I am having one of those times when I wonder why life has to be so complicated and busy. As I sometimes do I thought of MMM for a bit of solace and found your blog! I am 40 and first discovered MMM books in the back of my older sister's wardrobe when I was about nine. What a discovery. I learnt once that the author was from Sussex bu would love to know morw about her.

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    1. There is so little information about her AJP -there is a wikipedia entry but it doesn't say much. It would indeed be nice to know a bit more her. Thanks for reading :)

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  29. I totally agree. One of the few things we do know is that she was from Bexhill on Sea. The funny thing is that my mother's family were also from there and were blacksmiths. So I always imagine, half tongue in cheek, they were inspiration for Mr Rudge, who knows! One day, when I have a little more time,I will do some reasearch on Joyce Lankester Brisley. Thanks Sue, it is nice to find a fellow fa.

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    1. How marvellous! Mr Rudge was a fine-looking chap wasn't he? I shall have to go and reread the story where he gets married now.

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  30. Found your MMM blog post! Love it! I will clearly have to read your back catalogue of blog posts more carefully in future to avoid inadvertently copying your ideas! ;-)

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