Lord Fauntleroy curls

A popular (film and literature) hairstyle that nobody knows anymore

What does a beloved pre-Christmas German television routine about a little Lord, Star Trek and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have in common?

I am dealing with the term Lord-Fauntleroy curls, because I am currently working on the book SCHAU HEIMWÄRTS, ENGEL! by the American writer THOMAS WOLFE. I am investigating all phenomena, metaphors, authors and terms that are mentioned in the book and are unknown to me.

It's about that quote:

He feared and hated the recess periods, trembled before the brawling confusion of the mob and the playground, but his pride forbade that he skulk within, or secrete himself away from them. Eliza had allowed his hair to grow long; she wound it around her finger every morning into fat Fauntleroy curls: the agony and humiliation it caused him was horrible, but she was unable or unwilling to understand it, and mouth-pursingly thoughtful and stubborn to all solicitation to cut it. She had the garnered curls of Ben, Grover, and Luke stored in tiny boxes: she wept sometimes when she saw Eugene's, they were the symbol of his babyhood to her, and her sad heart, so keen in marking departures, refused to surrender them. Even when his thick locks had become the luxuriant colony of Harry Tarkinton's lice, she would not cut them: she held his squirming body between her knees twice a day and ploughed his scalp with a fine-toothed comb.

Source: Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life

This kind of curls is only worn in historical movies, here it is about a hairstyle that might be unknown to most viewers of the Little Lord.

Der kleine Lord von 1980

Ricky Schroders blond hair

For many German television viewers it is a routine they have come to love: Every Friday before Christmas, ARD shows the 1980 film adaptation of Little Lord Fauntleroy, starring Connie Booth, Ricky Schroder, Sir Alec Guinness and Patrick Stewart in one of the supporting roles (Wilkins, the stable master, was Patrick Stewart's fifth feature film role).

Although I have seen the film Little Lord Fauntleroy, probably more than six times, I did not immediately think what could be meant by Lord Fauntleroy curls, as Little Lord Fauntleroy wears straight blond hair in the 1980 film adaptation. What many TV viewers don't know is that of the many film adaptations of the book of the same name, the 1980 film adaptation of Jack Gold is the first in which Little Lord Fauntleroy - played by Ricky Schroder - is blond and has straight long hair. There have already been film adaptations of the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but are probably the book of illustrations and the two silent films of 1914 and 1921, to which the phrase Lord-Fauntleroy-Locken - used by Thomas Wolfe in his novel - goes back.


Frances Burnett, part of a photograph by Herbert Rose Barraud (1845-1896)
Frances Burnett, part of a photograph by Herbert Rose Barraud (1845-1896) / Link : https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Hodgson_Burnett#/media/Datei:Frances_Burnett.jpg
Strange hairstyle

Lord Fauntleroys curls

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Frances Hodgson Burnett, born on 24 November 1849 in Manchester, England and died on 29 October 1924 in Plandome, New York was a British writer. Marion Kremer writes on fembio.org: "Frances Hodgson came from a wealthy family that was impoverished by the death of her father and the economic decline of Manchester. Emigration to America made the plight of the mother and her five children even worse. But the social decline and life in rural Tennessee also meant freedom for Frances. Beyond the strict conventions, she was able to go forays into nature, learn the language of the "simple" people and try out ideas for improving the family budget.  Her first stories were published at the age of nineteen. Her greatest successes were the three children's books The Little Lord (Little Lord Fauntleroy), Sara the Little Princess (A Little Princess) and The Secret Garden.

Frances Hodgson Burnett, https://www.fembio.org

Lord Fauntleroy is the original title of the film we know as Little Lord Fauntleroy, based on the novel Little Lord Fauntleroy (published in 1886) by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I found the best source for the famous curls in the 2015 article A little Earl's Progress by Modconned. She or he writes: British American author Frances Hodgson Burnett modelled the look sported by the small hero of her 1886 book Little Lord Fauntleroy on her own son Vivian. (Source: ibid.) And in all the pictures shown, one of them sees a boy aged 8-12 with shoulder-length, very curly hair. 

Did Wolfe know a picture of the son of Frances Hodgson Burnett? Personally, I find that rather unlikely. It is more likely that Wolfe knew the book edition illustrated by the Anglo-American artist Reginald Bathurst Birch. Or that, based on this edition, this hairstyle was simply known by that name in large parts of society. The following proof can be found in the English language Wikipedia:

Reginald Bathurst Birch

His first great success was his illustration of Frances Hodgson Burnett's children's book Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886), whose young protagonist's long, curly hair and velvet and lace suit were widely imitated by mothers as a pattern of dress for their little boys. Birch's name was indelibly associated with Burnett's protagonist forever after, rather to the illustrator's irritation.

Source: Wikipedia

The long curly hair and the velvet suit as a model for many mothers of that time. (I also wore a velvet suit for communion, but that was over 80 years later).

Or Wolfe knew one of the early film adaptations, such as the silent film adaptation of 1914, from which only 3 photos can be found at IMDB, or the silent film remake of 1921, in which Mary Pickford, who was 28 years old at the time of shooting, plays both the mother and the little lord. And she wears long curls in the film, which were probably twisted hot with the curling iron. In this movie clip you can see the curls quite wonderfully. 

Mary Pickford (1915) - Fotograf unbekannt
Mary Pickford (1915) - Fotograf unbekannt / Link : https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Pickford#/media/Datei:Mary_Pickford_cph.3b05767.jpg
Movie star, businesswoman and film producer

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford was born on 8 April 1892 as Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of Elsie Charlotte (Hennessy) and John Charles Smith. She was of English and Irish descent. Pickford began acting at the age of seven. At that time she was known as "Baby Gladys Smith" and toured with her family in various theatre groups through the vaudeville theatres of the United States and Canada.

In 1907 she took on the surname Pickford and joined the David Belasco troupe. She began her film career in 1909 with the movie American Mutoscope & Biograph and worked together with director D.W. Griffith. Until 1912 she already took part in more than 140 movies, mostly one-act plays.

Mary Pickford made a decisive contribution to the development of the star system. After she had successfully filled the cinemas under the name The Girl with the Curls or Little Mary she changed the studios several times. The successful actress could demand higher fees for every change. Already in 1916 she earned 10.000 $ a week after changing several times.

Finally she founded the film company United Artists together with D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin and her later husband Douglas Fairbanks in 1919. Today the film company is a subsidiary of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and belongs to Sony Pictures Entertainment.

After it had been very successful with the first film adaptation of one of the books by Frances Hodgson Burnett The Little Princess (1917), Pickford shot Little Lord Fauntleroy in 1922 which became a great success at the box offices and brought in 1.1 million dollars. She herself helped to develop a scene in which the little lord (played by her) hugs his mother (also played by her). The technically complex shot lasted over 16 hours, but was only shown in the film for a few seconds.

Mary Pickford was one of the co-founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Her first president was her husband Douglas Fairbanks. The Academy's real purpose is to promote advances in the film industry, but the Academy is known for its annual Oscars.

Like many other stars of the silent movie era, she could not build on her earlier successes in the talkies. Although she got the Oscar for the best leading actress in 1930 for her performance in Coquette, she already shot her last movie in 1933 and was only active as a producer till 1940. She sold her last shares at United Artists in 1953. Mary Pickford died at the age of 86 on 29 May 1979.

tl, dr;

Patrick Stewart, a forty-year-old theatre actor of the Royal Shakespeare Company, took on the role of the stable master in the 1980 film Little Lord Fauntleroy. He is known to a wide public by his role as the Earl Grey drinking captain of the starship Enterprise. In another film adaptation of the book of the same nameLittle Lord Fauntleroy the actress Mary Pickford took over a double role as Little Lord and his mother in 1921. Mary Pickford wore a similar curly hairstyle as the son of the author of the novel, Vivian. Mary Pickford founded with D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin and her later husband Douglas Fairbanks the film company United Artists and she is co-founder of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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