The ideal young girl seems to have pervaded Victorian culture, from the novels of Dickens - as illustrated by the character of Little Nell in our current drama The Old Curiosity Shop - to the paintings of Millais.
Catherine Robson is a Professor of English at the University of California and has written on this subject. She told Jennifer Chevalier about her own belief that for a number of Victorian men, the young girl represented their own lost childhood. Men in Wonderland by Catherine Robson, published by Princeton University Press; ISBN: 0691004226
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