Thompson, Kay: Eloise
(researched by Jocelyn Payne)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

The first edition of Eloise was published in New York, NY by Simon and Schuster in 1955.

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

The first edition was published in trade cloth.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

pp. 1-6,7-8,9,10,11,12,13-16,17-22, 23-25,26,27,28,29,30-31,32-33,34-35, 36-37,38-42,43-45,46,47,48-50,51, 52,53,54,55,56,57,58,59,60-64, 65-66. There are thiry-two leaves in Eloise.

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

The Book was neither edited nor introduced.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

The book was illustrated by Hilary Knight,and includes 136 one color illustrations (29cm).

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

The book appears to be well pr
inted,and the text is easy to read in approximately 11 serif bold, however, there is an area in the text where it is no longer bold (p.12)and clearly appears to be a publishing flaw. The Illustrations are clear and well-displayed. The number of lines on each page vary.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

Printed on heavy and unwatermarked paper stock however, it is difficult to tell whether the paper was originally white as it appears off-white now- probably a result of age. The book has thirty-two leaves and the pages in the front and back are slightly larger and have rougher edges than those in the mid-section.

11 Description of binding(s)

The book's binding is white, and the spine reads in red, ELOISE/A/BOOK/FOR/PRECOCIOUS/GROWN/UPS/THOMPSON/ The cover reads in red, /ELOISE/ written in Knight's hand writing (identical to font on title page). The pages are bound by glue and stitching.

12 Transcription of title page


13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings


15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

Page one and page sixty-five are pink with an image and contain no text.
The Title page is printed in a serif font, all capital lettering.
Publishing dates:
1955 1957 1983 1990- available in both hard and soft cover

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

According to my searches on Bibliofind, Simon and Schuster published at least twenty-eight editions, however I was unable to obtain any definate number as I have emailed the publisher and I am awaiting a response as to the number of editions and the differences between them.
Simon and Schuster issued a Limited Edition in September of 1995. The book was bound in trade cloth, sixty-five pages and sold for $100.00.

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

Simon and Schuster published thirty five printings of the first eddition.

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

1957- Reinhardt, London 1982- Gallimard, Paris 1982- Schoenof's Foriegn Books Incorporated, Paris 1983- Trumpet Club, New York 1990- Trumpet Club, New York 1991- Bucaneer Books Incorporated, New York

6 Last date in print?

The most current date in print is September 1995.

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

To date, the book has sold more than one million copies.

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

The book sold over 150,000 copies between the years of 1955-1956.

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

In the September 17, 1955 issue of Publisher's Weekly, Simon and Schuster Publishing ran an ad announcing up coming books. Eloise was among those listed to appear in October to be sold for $2.95.

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

Kay Thompson created her own company entitled "Eloise Ltd." which marketed dolls, records, toys, luggage, clothes and post cards for fans of the 1950's. Many department stores during December and January of 1956 put on major promotions to market the Eloise line of clothing. The participating stores were as follows: Houston-Foley's Boston-Filene's New York-Bloomingdales, Lord and Taylor and FAO Schwatz Baltimore-Hutzler's Indianapolis-Ayres Philadelphia-Strawbridge and Clothier Cleveland-Higbee Company Washington D.C.-Garfinkle's San Fransico- J.W. Robinson
In addition, Jordon Marsh of Miami held a fashion show to promote the clothing.

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

During the spring of 1956 Kay Thompson went on television because she believed it to be "the most effective promotion medium" (Publisher's Weekly 12/16/57|). During November and December of 1957 Thompson was a guest on: the Dave Garroway, Arlene Francis, and Tex Jinx Shows. On October 14, 1957 she attended the Nieman Marcus promotion for Eloise dresses called "The French Fortnight" and appeared at the J.H Hudson in Detroit's promotion.

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

(French) Eloise (with two dots over the "i"), Gallimard Publishers: Paris 1982 (French) Eloise, Schoenof's Foriegn Books Incorporated: Paris 1982

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A


15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A

There are four sequels to Eloise which are: Eloise in Paris, Simon and Schuster, New York 1957 Max Reinhardt Publishing, London 1958 Eloise at Christmas Time,Simon and Schuster, New York 1958 Random House, New York 1958 Reinhardt, London 1959 Eloise in Moscow, Simon and Schuster, New York 1959 Reinhardt, London 1960 Eloise Takes A Bawth, Simon and Schuster, New York 1964 Reinhardt, London 1965

Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Kay Thompson may be best remembered for her creation of the character "Eloise," known as the tiny terror of New York's Plaza Hotel in her series of children's books, but she too, was a character in her own right. Thompson was born the daughter of a jeweler in St. Louis, Missouri on November 9, 1902 under her given name of Kitty Fink. She attended Washington University in St. Louis, and later pursued careers in acting, singing, writing and acting as a musician (Celebrity Biographies). She was married and divorced twice with no children, in the 1930's to Jack Jenney a band leader and later to William Spier a radio writer and producer.
Thompson enjoyed a diverse artistic life. She began to play the piano when she was four and at age fifteen played Liszt with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Two years later she left in search of fame in California and occupied the position of a diving instructor (The Daily Telegraph, 29). Soon afterwards in 1935, she was hired as a vocal arranger and singer for radio with Bing Crosby and the Mills Brothers and later in New York, she created her own radio show, "Kay Thompson and Company," featuring the comedian Jim Backus. In 1937 after the demise of the radio show, Thompson made her Broadway debut in, "Hooray for What!" exhibiting the music of Harold Arlen and lyrics by E Y "Yip" Harburg and her film debut in, "Manhattan Merry-Go-Round." However she was fired from the Broadway cast and hired in 1944 as a vocal coach and arranger by MGM and worked on films such as "The Ziegfeld Follies" (1946), "The Harvey Girls"(1946) and "The Kid From Brooklyn" (1946)and worked with Judy Garland and Lena Horne. In 1947, her contract with MGM expired and she formed a night club act with the Williams Brothers- a year later earning $15,000 dollars a week in Miami. The nightclub act traveled around the world for six years and broke up in 1953, where upon Thompson created a clothing line called "Kay Thompson's Fancy Pants" designed for tall women. Eloise the main character of her books, was thought up during her night club touring. When Thompson appeared for rehearsal late (uncharacteristic of her), she responded to the criticism of the band members by saying, "all right, all right, I'm late. I'm Eloise and af'r all, I'm only six" (The Daily Telegraph, 29)in a high childish voice. Afterwards, the character of Eloise remained and she would often perform the imitation for others. It was only after DeDe Ryan of Harper's Bizarre convinced Thompson to write a book about Eloise and introduced her to illustrator Hilary Knight that "Eloise: A Book For Precocious Grown-ups" was published in 1955 followed by the sequels, "Eloise in Paris," (1957) "Eloise at Christmastime," (1958)and "Eloise in Moscow" (1959).
In 1957, Thompson was cast as the fashion magazine editor in the movie "Funny Face," with co-stars Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. Her only other film was Otto Preminger's "Tell me That You Love Me, Junie Moon" in 1970, staring Judy Garland's Daughter and her god daughter Liza Minnelli. After her last film she became reclusive, spending her time in Rome and Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Thompson died on July 2,1998 in Liza Minnelli's Manhattan apartment at the estimated age of 95, as she never revealed her age to anyone.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

It was difficult to find reviews written after Kay Thompson, (an actress by profession) published her first book "Eloise." I attribute this to her unknown status at the time in the children's literary world. However, the majority of the reviews following the sequels refer back to "Eloise" and sing its praise. The book's popularity is manifested as well through the consumer goods sold throughout the country.
The only review I could find that refered directly to Thompson's first book "Eloise" is in the Saturday Review (which contains a hint of prophecy when we examine the books reception history) which states, "...Eloise skidded through the corridors (and through the revolving doors) of New york's staid Hotel Plaza in the pages of a book entitled "Eloise" and into the hearts of little girls all over the country. As recent fictional children go, Eloise has a savior faire, an impishness and a sales appeal which surpass any of her contemporaries." The notion that the character of Eloise was able to gain popularity among young girls universally attests to the book's overwhelming positive reception.
When Thompson published her second book, "Eloise in Paris" (also a best seller)in 1957, crtics began to write collectively about the books. Henry Green of the Chicago Sunday Tribune remarked, "Hillary Knight has recorded these adventures with bubbling charm and a fine eye for background detail. Kay Thompson is in rare form and Eloise is all that can be expected by delighted readers of the earlier book," in obvious praise for both "Eloise" and its sequel. Similarly, Sylvia Stallings of the New york Herald Tribune states that, "A sequel rarely comes up to the level of its original impulse, but in Eloise's case, happily Miss Thompson and Knight seem to have turned the trick."
In contrast to the positive reviews, Robin Denniston of the Spectator writes that the book's themes and humor are over done. Denniston writes, "Let us be fair to the author and to Hillary knight, whose pictures are more telling and rather less knowing than the text. The first few pages will keep most people in stitches. But eventually laughter dies away. There is only one joke, which is Eloise, and she is far too long sustained." Denniston argues that the book's scope is too narrow and thus fails at an attempt at humor."
In additon to the reviews, it is also important to examine the successful promotional effort which marketed Eloise collectables. Not only was the book widely applauded, but the consumer goods were very popular (see section eleven of assignment two- "other promotions").
SOURCES: The Chicago Tribune December 22, 1957 The New york Herald December 15, 1957 The Saturday Review December 7, 1957 The Spectator November 20, 1958

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Kay Thompson's book "Eloise," published in 1955 about a mischievous 6-year-old who lives at The Plaza Hotel, produced one of the most recognizable characters in children's literature and one of the most famous fictional New Yorkers.
The promotional craze, including Eloise dolls and clothing line that occured in the late fifties continues into nineties and indicates no end in sight for the positive reception of the book. According to Rick Richer in 1998, of Simon and Schuster Publishing the book has sold over one million copies to date and will continue to sell when the collector's edition, "Eloise: The Essential Edition" is released in May of 1999. In addition to the portrait of Eloise which still hangs in the Plaza Hotel, the hotel was designated a "literary landmark" on September 26, 1998. The events at the unveiling were: a plaque hanging (sponsored by The Friends of Libraries USA, The Books for Kids Foundation, and the Empire Friends of New York State Libraries), an Eloise look-alike contest and a guest appearance by Hillary Knight the illustrator.
In Kay Thompson's obituaries the author's all express a deep remorse for her passing and are in agreement that her book for children and adults alike, is a truly unique and timeless classic.
SOURCES: People Magazine July 20, 1998 The New York Times November 15, 1998

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

The readiness of children to take into their hearts the books of their choice, while others apparently worthy lie neglected, has perplexed writers and publishers, booksellers and book buyers ever since the turn o
f the century. No formula will solve the uncertainty and the bewilderment of adults as to what children are looking for in the books they read. It cannot be confidently asserted that "children like this kind of book" or "children do not like that kind."
There is a certain kind of magic in these "chosen" books that have earned their place on the self next to time worn classics such as Tom Sawyer and Alice in Wonderland, which enchants them much as the tune of the Pied Piper lured the children of old Ham
elin. The essence from which it is distilled can best be discovered in those books which generations of children have taken into their hearts and have kept alive; books which seem to have an immortality that adult books, so soon superceded by the latest
best-seller, seldom attain. Kay Thompson's Eloise a Book for Precocious Grown Upspublished in 1955, has enjoyed close to fifty years of popularity because it appeals to both adults and children alike, hence it attracts a broader reader base than t
he average children's book. First editions of the Eloise series are valued collector's items usually priced well over one hundred dollars, and contemporary releases of limited editions continue the Eloise craze that began in the late fifties after the fi
rst publication. The book's popularity can be attributed to Thompson's exuberant six year old star Eloise, and Hillary Knight's vivid illustrations which bring her to life. Eloise is widely known for her outrageous exploits in New York's Plaza Hotel an
d is praised by readers and critics alike for her individualistic spirit. Her unusual circumstances appeal to young and old readers' sense of fantasy and adventure. Eloise's family structure and life-style in a hotel contrasts the suburban culture of th
e fifties encouraged by television sitcoms such as the "Donna Reed Show" and "Leave it to Beaver." The book's popularity lies in its ability to transcend social norms of the 1950's and to remain a relevant, yet playful commentary on contemporary gender
roles and family structure.
Thompson's book manifests the long evolution of children's literature beginning at the turn of the century. The years leading to 1910 reveal the decline of the didactic "good godly" books of the puritans and turns to an emphasis on educating children abo
ut American ideology. Children's books instructed male heroes about manners, morals, history and geography and taught girls the importance of appropriate behavior in order to become "the perfect lady." Later in the decade children's literature sees expe
riences beginning of the imaginative story as well as pictures which carry the story apart from text. Children were no longer expected to read literature aimed at adults, but rather were encouraged to develop their own sense of American ideals and their
individuality within the country. The period between the years of 1925 and 1940 is entitled "The Golden Age of Children's Literature" which exhibits a "volcanic eruption in book for boys and girls" (Smith, 39). After World War I there was an increase in
the quality and production of books as a result of new printing press technology brought back from Europe. The upsurge of hope that the world was now safe for democracy and the notion that the time was ripe for attention to the things of the spirit encou
raged innovative children's literature. Subject matter for children's books ranged from moral responsibility to international understanding (an issue supported by elementary school texts as well as in pleasure reading). American children were not only e
ncouraged to embrace the cultural differences of children around the world, but also encouraged to understand the cultural differences within America which make up the country as a whole. In the 1930's "real" American children begin to appear in books ab
out the pioneers and the frontier. It is here that stories such as Caddie Woodlawn introduce the notion that girls can occupy non-traditional roles contrary to the established conventions at the beginning of the century. World War II during the
1940's triggered a pro-reading movement in order to prevent the perversion of established values by outside sources. New books spoke of dignity of the individual and regard for the human spirit in relation to individual freedom. Comic children's literat
ure such as Curious George and books by Dr. Seuss, emerged for the first time in an effort to brighten the war years for little children. This movement was diluted by the fifties which experienced the rise of television and motion pictures as oth
er mediums for children's entertainment. Children's authors of the fifties had to come up with a wide variety of subjects for children of all ages in order to maintain readership. Television made children more involved in the adult world than they had be
en previously, because they watched the same programs that the adults did and engaged in discussion with the adults about the programs. The advancement of technology and television encouraged interest in subjects such as submarines rather than red wagons
thus gave way to a more sophisticated child reader than had been seen in the past. The children of the fifties were consumed with a desire to "know" and so there was a "two fold challenge: first, to spur the gifted on to greater heights and depths in re
ading, and second, to provide less difficult but mature and authentic materials for boys and girls whose age and level of maturity exceeded their ability to read. Another trend in the publishing of children's books had its inception in the newly aroused
public concern for the teaching of beginning reading and expansion of individual reading beyond the text book materials. One fortunate outcome of this movement was the appearance of attractive, lively, ?easy' books, controlled in vocabulary, yet full of
interest and well illustrated at their best, but sometimes silly and insulting to the intelligence of children and wooden in story and illustration at their worst" (Smith, 63).
Eloise embodies the ideals of the movement within children's literature of the 1950's, through it's simplistic nature yet socially relevant themes. In addition, the book reflects the evolution of children's literature throughout the century, in bo
th its structural and thematic presentation. The "perfecting of the picture book" which evolved throughout the century, no doubt aided Eloise in holding the child's interest during the initial stages of learning to read. Eloise in many ways is th
e new female American who, after the settling of the west and two world wars is a far cry from the "perfect lady." The book reveals the changed attitudes towards children and the process of growing up. Children are now treated with respect by authors as
they were neither talked "at" nor "down to." Forces within them were to be stimulated through imaginative presentation of experience and not through preaching and moralizing. Eloise represents a real human personality rather than a type and subtly intr
oduces the notion of diversity within a society trying to impose conformity through social establishments such as suburbia.

In retrospect, we can see that Eloise is one of the first "modern females" because Thompson frees her from gender roles defined by sexism, during a time when sexism was not entirely discussed or defined. Very few female characters in children's literatur
e displayed Eloise's individual characteristics that one might term as "feminist" today. Her socially liberated persona and her non-traditional family structure make her an ancestor of the children of the late eighties and nineties as well as an intrigu
ing character even for readers today. Sexism is defined as "the predetermination of people's choices in life on the basis on sex, without regard to individual differences" by the Joint Organizations Seminar Discussion Papers of the three Victorian Teac
her's Unions in September of 1975 and typical female characteristics include: dependence, passivity, fragility, subjectivity and over empathic tendencies. Eloise does not embody the traditional characteristics that previous female characters in children's
literature personified, but rather exhibits male characteristics such as: independence, aggression, leadership, task orientation, courageousness and confidence (Wignell, 9). Eloise, through the inversion of gender roles, offers the girl reader a
positive image of woman's physical, emotional and intellectual potential by encouraging her to reach her own full person hood, free of traditionally imposed limitations. However, the author's circumspection not to shock her contemporary readers by stray
ing too radically from the social norms also attributes to the popularity of the book. Eloise displays some of the archetypal characteristics of a socialized female child through her dress and hair ribbon as well as her ownership of dolls. She wears a t
ypical female outfit, but is not the picture of physical beauty (as seen by her untidy hair and attire) like many of her literary counterparts. This allows female readers to identify with her, yet also admire her individuality and vibrant spirit.

The lack of traditional parental influence in Eloise, makes the book a thematic predecessor and serves as commentary to the renewed interest in parenting techniques of the 1960's and 1970's. Attention to child raising strategies emerged during th
e turn of the twentieth century, because families migrated to the cities from rural areas. Since fathers were no longer in the home during the day due to urban jobs, women became the head of households and the primary parent in charge of child rearing.
Many pamphlets and "experts" in the area of child study began to appear, thus the permissive and laissez-fare child rearing era of the previous century was over. The parent-education movement developed into a "well-organized social movement" and reached
millions of people for the first time. A utilization of scientific methods in the 1920's replaced prior reliance on biblical references in regard to child raising. As the movement grew, and as parenthood lead to increasing frustration, the number of p
arent-education programs increased as a result of the studies conducted by experts such as Skinner, Spock, Ginott, and Dreikurs (Smith, 96). The civil rights and the women's movement of the 1960's brought with them a social awareness of the changing role
s of parents. Federal legislation and funding encouraged parenting programs and studies about alternative family life-styles. Eloise, published at the tail end of the "baby boom" reflects the beginning of the nation's recognition of nontraditiona
l families and life-style variations. In the 1930's through the 1950's, sociological studies of the single parent families multiplied. These studies were primarily about single mothers and their problems intrinsic in single parenting and the effect of t
he father's absence on children.
Eloise's situation is unique even among the social deviant families of the time. Her family structure differs from the majority of single parent American families, because the sole parent does not head the family, but rather entrusts Eloise's upbringing
to "Nanny." Additionally, Eloise does not suffer from the economic hardships that studies have shown most single parent families endure. According to studies of the time, "Employment is the major source of income for single mothers; two out of every t
hree are in the work force" (Hamner, 194). It is not clear from the text whether Eloise's mother is independently wealthy (Eloise tells us that she own a considerable amount of AT&T stock) or whether she works at an easily defined job. If we assume tha
t she is independently wealthy and leaves her child to live in a hotel with a nanny, the scenario becomes so unusual that it is the result of an unrealistic eccentric family, rather than reflective of the struggling families of the time. In this way, Tho
mpson puts a humorous and positive spin on an unfortunate situation. She quietly comments on society while keeping the subject matter light in order to avoid alienating her reader, and instead attempts to ignite imagination and fantasy within the common
adult and child reader.

However, if we rise above the book's apparent light hearted nature, it is clear that Eloise is a child without a real home and family and yet apparently happy. Thompson places Eloise's home within a public area, to comment on the literary trend throughou
t the century of the "separation of spheres." For Eloise, there is no distinction between the public and the private realms, because her home incorporates the two. Thompson's failure to mention a father influence, as well as Eloise's mother's absence, ne
gate the traditional notion of mother in the home and father in the workplace. Moreover, she is a product of public life rather than of family life because she spends her days in the hotel attending public events. Her precocious attributes are derived f
rom her daily interaction with adults rather than with children of her own age. It is interesting to note that Eloise actually attends debutante balls and weddings; coming of age events for upper class girls, yet imagines that she attends a General Motor
s meeting. Thompson is again careful not to be too overt with her social commentary through support of accepted socialization procedures and norms. We can infer from this that Eloise's independence and unusual characteristics for a girl of the 1950's, ar
e a result of her liberation from the traditional home based within the "cult of domesticity."

The book was a best seller in the 50's because Thompson introduced new characteristics to the female character on the brink of social reformation, and remains popular today because Eloise embodies many of the characteristics women continue to strive to at
tain. Thompson's caution in openly introducing radical social ideas attributes to the book's popularity because it allows readers to absorb change in ideology, rather than abruptly force them to accept the change. Eloise appeals to both children and adu
lts because she is an assertive and independent female child, yet retains her sense of imagination common to most children her age. Regardless of whether or not Eloise is seen as a child within a healthy environment, her introduction of new gender roles
and family structure is emblematic of social reformation which began during the late fifties and continues today.
Works Cited Hamner, Tommie J. Parenting in Contemporary Society. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1990. Smith, Dora V. Fifty Years of Children's Books. Champaign: The National Council of Teachers of English, 1963. Wignell, Edna. Boys Whistle Girls Sing. Richmond: Primary Education Publishing, 1976.

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