In about 1855, three decades before frances hodgson burnett wrote her first best-selling children's book, little lord fauntleroy, she was a child—Frances Eliza Hodgson—and she read Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. She found Stowe's novel, like all the stories she encountered, to be “unsatisfactory, filling her with vague, restless craving for greater completeness of form” (Burnett 44). The form the girl craved—that is, the material she believed she needed to complete the narrative—was a black doll. When Burnett obtained the doll, she named it Topsy and used it to “act” out the parts of the novel she found most “thrilling” (53). Casting a white doll she already owned as Little Eva, she played out ever-repeating scenes of Eva laying hands on Topsy, awakening the hardened slave girl to Christian love. Burnett also kept the Eva doll “actively employed slowly fading away and dying,” and in these scenes she took on the role of Uncle Tom (57). At other times, Burnett performed the scene of Eva's death, casting the white doll as Eva and herself as “all the weeping slaves at once” (58). And at least once she designated the doll Uncle Tom and cast herself as Simon Legree. For this scenario, the girl bound the doll to a candelabra stand. “[F]urious with insensate rage,” she whipped her doll (fig. 1). Throughout the whipping, the doll maintained a “cheerfully hideous” grin, which suggested to the girl that Uncle Tom was “enjoying the situation” of being “brutally lashed” (56, 55).