J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sarah Bishop and Hair

I was going to stay away from the topic of hair for a long while. Really, I was. But as I noodled about the story of hermitess Sarah Bishop yesterday, I couldn’t help noticing how the cover artists for Scott O’Dell’s young adult novel about her had depicted her tresses.

The hardcover edition from Houghton Mifflin to the left is from 1980.

I think the cover at right is the first mass-market paperback edition, from the early 1980s.

And below is a detail of the paperback edition on the market since 1988.In each case, young Sarah wears her hair in a way fashionable at the time that cover was published, but with no resemblance to Revolutionary styles. The hardcover artist at least popped a cap on her head—all respectable British-American women and girls wore caps in public in the 1700s. And when that hairstyle was the norm, perhaps only people attuned to changing fashion would have noticed something amiss. But from our perspective twenty-seven years later, the cap and those Breck Girl bangs make Sarah Bishop look like a surly young Holiday Inn waitress from 1980.

If you’ll be reenacting at Battle Road this April, the folks at the Hive can help ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

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