He always seems to have a smile on his face and has been known to accompany the finest of teddy bears. Who could it be? Why, it's a Golly of course. But did you ever wonder what a Golly is and how it came to be? Well, wonder no longer.
Here is the story:
The origin of Gollywogg (Golly for short and sometimes spelled as Golliwogg and Golliwog), as creator, Florence Upton herself said in an interview, "is passing simple. He was born of no deep, dark intentions, nor was he the product of a decadent craving for ugliness on the part of his creator. He simply walked quietly side by side with me out of my own childhood...Tracing him back to as near the beginning as
I can get, he came from an American Fair. Farther we cannot go, and must fall back on the Topsy theory - 'he growed'."
Above is an illustration in the Florence Upton book Two Dutch Dolls in 1895
Above are Florence Upton's
childhood dolls, Peggy and Sarah Jane, with the Original Gollywogg, now housed at
the British Prime Minister's
Florence Upton's Illustrations with Dutch Dolls
Playing with Teddy
Bath time Antics
Florence Upton is credited with the beginnings of the Gollywogg, although she acquired the doll in her childhood. It was the illustrations she created that included dolls and the Gollywogg, which she is known for, as well as naming it by altering the word, Pollywog.
After creating the illustrations, her mother Bertha would then write children's stories to capture the events that were taking place in the pictures.
The books were quite successful and another well known author, Enid Blyton, went on to use the Golliwog (she removed a "g") in her stories. Florence had neglected to patent the Golliwogg and she lost a considerable fortune in royalties and the rights to her beloved character.
The Golliwogg became the first "named" soft toy, followed closely by the Teddy Bear and Raggedy Ann. He was the first children's book character to be reproduced as a doll. The first company to do so was Steiff of Germany. They would later be followed by other manufacturers.
Upton's version of the Golliwogg showed him as a gallant fellow and the hero of her stories, but later writers, such as Blyton, didn't portray him as such, therefore changing his persona.
Regardless, the Golly has made it's mark in history as a beloved character and toy to many children and an honorable friend to many Teddy Bears worldwide.
Still a favorite with collectors, the Golly continues to have a special place in our hearts and in our history.