Not everyone loves dolls, however. Where most of us are comfortable seeing faces in clouds or believing our cars have a personality (a process called anthropomorphism), some of us are terrified by this. Automatonophobia is the irrational fear of things which resemble, but aren’t, humans. This includes clowns, ventriloquist dummies and dolls. It’s not surprising then that all three began appearing in spooky children’s stories and horror films of the 20th century.
One 20th century woman who saw doll houses not as innocent places of play, but as macabre scenes of death, was Frances Glessner Lee. Born into wealth in 1878, Frances grew up in a house so beloved by her parents, that her father even wrote a book on it. Approaching adulthood, young Frances dreamed of studying medicine or nursing, a dream denied by her controlling and conservative father. Instead she was trained in domestic duties, such as knitting, interior design, metal work and painting.