By Carol Olten
Hap and mishap govern the world, according to the words of an old English
proverb. William Shakespeare carried this idea into the dialogue of many of his
plays in which characters exist in various states of haps and mishaps ranging
from the dark fates in “Hamlet” to the light happenstances of “As You Like It.”
In the late 1880s, two dolls named “Hap” and “Mishap” joined the acting
company of London’s Lyceum Theater, led by the great Shakespearean actors
Ellen Terry and Henry Irving. Anna Held, who later established the Green
Dragon Colony in La Jolla, was at that time a thespian sidekick. Actors made doll
costumes out of their old cloaks and capes worn in the Shakespeare productions
and imagined their shape shifting progeny in their own roles. At some point,
Terry decided two dolls resembled her little niece, Olive Morris. And, thus, they
became Olive Hap and Olive Mishap.
When Held came to La Jolla in 1894 to establish a haven for bohemian artists,
musicians, writers, occasional royals, and other members of the intelligentsia,
she brought both dolls with her. She and her numerous guests continued to play
dress-up and act out scenes with them. The dolls soon became celebrities though
Mishap, with her penchant for getting into quick trouble and out of it, appears
to have been the lead player.
Time passed. Held made more and more transatlantic crossings to join her
ever-growing circle of international family and friends. She married the celebrated
baritone and composer Max Heinrich, sold the Green Dragon in 1912, lived for
a brief time in a small cottage on Torrey Pines Road, and took up residence in
Bankers Hill. In 1939, she moved to England to live with lifelong friend Dorothy
Palmer. Anna Held died in Oxford on December 14, 1941, at the age of 93.1
For nearly a hundred years, the dolls were lost, seemingly vanished. The last
mention of the possible whereabouts of Olive Mishap appeared in “Nostalgia
Lane” columns written in the mid-1960s by Marie Breden for The La Jolla Light.
She suggested that Held had sent Olive Mishap as a gift to a Chicago matron. No
acknowledgement was made about Olive Hap.
About seven years ago, as the historian for the La Jolla Historical Society, I
took on a mission to find Olive Mishap, not knowing at the time that a second doll
even existed. The project developed like an Agatha Christie thriller—all jagged
twists and turns complicated by confusing dates on old photographs, great gaps
of historical information, unreliable distilled reminiscences from many years
gone by, and enough subplots to make Hercule Poirot cringe. The dolls’ story still
leaves a few questions unanswered, for example, how did Hap first appear on the
scene? But my mission was accomplished. Both Olive Hap and Olive Mishap have
been found and currently lie secure within the archive of the La Jolla Historical
Society along with much of the valuable antique wardrobe that was created for
them in those halcyon days at the Lyceum.
My initial interest in Olive Mishap was piqued by the many photos of the doll
taken in the early 1900s at the Green Dragon. In Held’s collection of more than 200
dolls—many handmade—Olive clearly stood out. She was much larger than the
rest with a remarkable face distinguished by huge lucid eyes and pouty lips. There
were several photos of this Olive “at tea” with various children, including one
showing a special guest in the form of a cat. An earlier photo taken in a London
studio in 1888 showed a doll identified only as “Olive” that was photographed
with a Jack Russell terrier called Drummy. I soon learned that Drummy had been
one of Ellen Terry’s beloved Jack Russells. The actress gave him to her friend
Anna Held. Together, they crossed the Atlantic seven times. Drummy died at a
very old age in New York City.2
Held first met Terry after a performance of “Twelfth Night” in Washington,
DC, in 1884. At that time, Held was working as a governess for the children
of railroad entrepreneur William Jackson Palmer and his wife Mary “Queen”
Palmer.3 Held and the actress soon became close friends. In 1888, Held moved to
London to work as Terry’s secretary and companion. She also acted in bit parts
although, because of her German accent, she was given non-speaking roles. She
appeared as a lady-in-waiting in the Lyceum’s heralded 1888-89 production of
“Macbeth” in which Henry Irving played the title role.4 Terry, as Lady Macbeth,
was costumed in a dress shimmering with more than a thousand iridescent green
beetle wings. It was Held who stood in for Terry while John Singer Sargent painted
the actress as Lady Macbeth, a portrait that is on display in London’s Tate Gallery.5
Shortly after the “Macbeth” production, Terry, Irving and Held embarked
on a vacation to the Continent. They stopped in Paris where Ellen and Anna
visited a toy shop and were “enraptured by the dolls there displayed.” Havrah
Hubbard, who penned a biographical sketch of Held entitled “The Joyous Child,”
tells this story:
Making a selection was rather difficult, so they ordered several
of them sent to the hotel for further consideration and choice. In the
afternoon Mr. Irving came over from his hotel, and upon entering
the room he spied upon the bed the varied and striking array of
dolls, most of them ‘just as they came from their maker’s hand.’ He
suddenly stopped and exclaimed: ‘Ladies! Ladies! what is all of this?
It looks as though there had been a series of ‘mishaps’ in Paris!’6
Delighted laughter greeted the comment. Irving was compelled to select
the best “baby” in the group. When he chose one, it was solemnly christened
“Mishap.” Later the name Olive was added. Hubbard wrote, “Miss Olive Mishap
came into being in Ellen Terry’s room in the Hotel Des Deux Mondes on that
afternoon of August 16, 1889.”7
Settled again in London, Terry and Held “found unending pleasure in making
dresses for Olive,” according to Hubbard. The actress
…took of her own golden tresses enough hair to have a special wig
made; she gave cloth from her dress she wore in Nance Oldfield;
a bit from the gorgeous robe of Lady Macbeth; a fragment of
Portia’s robe; cloth from Hamlet’s cloak worn by Irving. These
with countless other ‘snitches’ of famous fabric were fashioned by
the loving fingers of Lady Nell [Terry] herself, and by Anna [Held].
countless doll exhibits. Finally, she stopped for a visit with Chicago social worker
and philanthropist Lydia Avery Coonley-Ward who intended to put her in a
museum. By 1938, however, the doll had been lost. Hubbard wrote, “The fate of
poor Olive since then is unknown. She mysteriously disappeared and no trace
of her could be found.”9
But some 75 years later I picked up a trace, in fact, several traces. Some
suggested the doll might have ended up in the estate of the late Harle Garth
Montgomery, a La Jolla native who had lived on Torrey Pines Road not far from
where Anna’s second or “junior” Green Dragon had been located. Others hinted
it could have become part of Modjeska’s doll collection at her house, Arden, now
a National Historic Landmark on the western slope of the Santa Ana Mountains
in Orange County, CA. Still others suggested that the doll might be sleeping
in somebody’s attic in Chicago. It was also possible that Amy Strong, who had
inherited many of Held’s possessions after the latter left San Diego, received the
doll. In turn, Strong might have given it to some child who played too lovingly with
it, in which case it probably was in a landfill by now. I traced all the likelihoods
I spread the word of my search through a column in the La Jolla Village News.
A few weeks later, the broken body of Olive Mishap was brought to my door in an
Adidas shoe box, along with a plastic bag containing remnants of Terry’s human hair
wig. La Jolla resident and philanthropist Harle Montgomery had given her daughter,
Terre Edwards, the doll years ago with the idea she might send it to a conservator
for restoration, then make a gift of it to the La Jolla Historical Society. Edwards
gave the doll to the Society along with a generous donation for its conservation.10
The doll matched photographs in the Society collection. The head and torso
were intact, but the limbs needed restringing. Not knowing much about antique
dolls, I called La Jolla appraiser and estate liquidator James McDonald for an initial
opinion about its value. He suggested looking at the back of the doll’s head for
a possible identification or number. The mark I found was “J. Steiner BTSGDG,
Paris, Fre A17.” This Olive was a doll with a pedigree!
“J. Steiner” was Jules Nicholas Steiner, a late nineteenth-century Parisian
horologist turned dollmaker. He was known for fashioning highly collectible
life-size “bebes,” or dolls, made of wax over papier mâché heads with fabric and
bisque bodies. Some versions had bisque heads with fabric and composition
bodies. They were dressed in elaborate period costumes and some reflected
contemporary interpretations of ethnicity. The Steiner dolls were first researched
and chronicled by Dorothy A. McGonagle in her definitive book, The Dolls of Jules
Nicolas Steiner (1988).11 McGonagle herself is an enthusiastic Steiner doll collector.
When I contacted her in New York about the new Steiner discovery, she suggested
finding a professional conservator in Southern California to restore the doll to a
presentable appearance. Irena Calinescue, who has been operating her Fine Arts
Conservation LLC practice in Los Angeles since 1998 and has done work for the
J. Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, came to the
rescue. She re-strung the body, removed surface debris and residue from its head
and torso, and stabilized the overall form to discourage further age damage.
Olive Mishap made her debut once again in La Jolla as part of the historical
society’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2014. She wore a new dress designed by
fashion icon Zandra Rhodes. The long-lost doll had been found and resurrected
with much celebration. End of story? No, only half of it.
About two years later, a handwritten letter arrived at my home from Celia
Crawford of Washington, DC, explaining that she was in possession of “Anna
Held’s doll.” Crawford wrote that she was downsizing and looking for suggestions
for what to do with it. My first reaction was that this couldn’t be the doll; we had
already solved the mystery of Held’s doll with the discovery of Olive Mishap.
But Crawford had evidence of a letter written by Held in 1916 saying she had
given a doll named Olive Hap to Elizabeth Ferry Coonley (the granddaughter of
Lydia Avery Coonley-Ward) who had played with it during a visit to the Green
Dragon.12 Celia Crawford is Elizabeth’s daughter and had inherited Olive Hap
as part of her mother’s estate.
Olive Hap, having rested for nearly a hundred years, was in much better
condition than Olive Mishap and was accompanied by her trunk of late nineteenthcentury
doll clothes and various artifacts. She also bore the Steiner pedigree, a
mark at the back of the neck: “Steiner PARIS SODG Frea 17.”
Crawford donated Olive Hap and her wardrobe and possessions to the La
Jolla Historical Society in April 2016, along with Held’s descriptive letter that told
of the doll’s history. Held wrote:
In the summer of 1888 in London I was parting with some little
children of whom I was very fond, and it almost broke my heart,
so Ellen Terry said, ‘We will go off for a holiday in Switzerland
and have a good time and you will forget all about it.’ In Paris she
bought me this doll, saying, “I can’t adopt a baby for you, but this
is next to it.’ When we returned to London Miss Terry had a wig
made for the doll from her own hair, and she called the doll Olive
because, she said, she looked just like her little niece, Olive Morris.
Whenever we went Olive went along with us: we never went driving
without her between us (like fools, I suppose).13
Terry and Held had two Steiner dolls from the start. The idea that they looked
alike no doubt added to the make-believe. Was it Hap in the photograph with
Drummy, or Mishap? Who was taking tea today, Hap or Mishap? The dolls were
probably interchangeably dressed, photographed, and sent, as Held recalled,
“a-journeying.” Jokes must have abounded about Hap and Mishap as mistaken
identities. Dolls dallying amidst Shakespearean actors in fragments of their theater
costumes cast in imagined roles of merrymakers, jesters, pranksters, and fools—
what fun! It could make a comedy of “Hamlet.” No matter that it was usually
adults—not children—as the players.
Held recalled that Mme. Modjeska had formed an attachment to Olive Hap
after she had spent a summer at the Green Dragon colony. She took the doll home
with her to her country retreat, Arden. When the doll came back, Held wrote,
“she was fitted out with a brand new Leghorn hat…and her wardrobe was all
washed and ironed and cleaned.”14
Held took great care in describing the wardrobe that she entrusted to Elizabeth
The old green kimono-sort of thing, with its trimming, were
from an old dressing gown of Miss Terry’s which she wore for years
and years—in the theater and everywhere she went. She made the
red dress with the tiny white polka dot entirely herself, many a time
keeping the stage waiting while she took another stitch. The
little blue dress was smocked in Stratford-on-Avon by a descendant
of the woman who had smocked Shakespeare’s clothes. The pink
and white striped dress was made by the Countess Resse in Italy
when Olive and I were visiting her. The blue-gray velvet dress is
a piece of the Lady Macbeth cloak. The blue-gray flannel cloak is
from one of Sir Henry’s.15
When Olive Hap arrived with this wardrobe at the historical society more than
a hundred years after it had been made, the doll costumes were in remarkably
good condition, quite probably equal to, or beyond, the value of the doll itself.
Hap arrived attired in the blue dress Held described as smocked in Stratford-onAvon
and a fine pair of brown leather boots. The rest of the wardrobe, as described
by Held, was neatly boxed. A small trunk marked “OH” contained items Held
referred to as “Olive’s property.” It contained a dozen handkerchiefs embroidered
with her initials, a small stein from Bayreuth, kid gloves, and a miniature hot
water bottle. The trunk also contained “her library”: a Shakespeare book, a prayer
book inscribed “with love from her godmother Ellen Terry. London ’90,” and
some little German books.
How did Olive Hap end up with all the clothes when Mishap had nothing
but a plastic bag full of hair? Several explanations come to mind. In sending
Olive Hap to Coonley, Held anticipated she would eventually be placed in a
doll museum, hence the VIP wardrobe went with her. In the flurry of activity
that accompanied Held’s sale of the Green Dragon in 1912 and her numerous
transatlantic journeys, Mishap suffered the worst of mishaps—she was left
behind. When Dr. William Leroy Garth, Sr. and Wilma Harle Garth (Harle Garth
Montgomery’s parents) bought the Ivan Rice estate in the 1920s, the property
included a small structure that had been Held’s “junior” Green Dragon. Olive
Mishap most likely had been left there to be discovered by Harle as a child,
played with to the point of falling apart and, much later, given to her daughter
Terre Edwards as a project for conservation. Montgomery died before I began
my doll search so I was unable to obtain the answers to these questions from her.
More intriguing is Held’s lifelong love of children and dolls as “bebes” or
extensions of them. As a young woman in Berlin in the mid-nineteenth century
she developed a great interest in the educational work with young children
pioneered by the German pedagogue Friedrich Froebel. Held diligently studied
Froebel’s theories and put them into practice at the Kullak School near her parents’
home, soon becoming recognized as one of the best teachers of the progressive
form of education at earlier ages. A chance meeting with an American woman
seeking help to raise and tutor two young children led to Held’s
first passage to New York. She was quick to land jobs with other wealthy families as a
teacher and nanny. In the 1870s Held established her own kindergarten in Nashua,
New Hampshire, before receiving an invitation to go to Boston and conduct a normal school where
other young women could learn to be kindergarten teachers. When the Centennial Exposition
was held in Philadelphia in 1876, Held was invited to conduct daily demonstrations on the
principles and workings of the Froebel Kindergarten System of Child Training.16
In his biographical sketch of Held, Hubbard wrote that her “love for children was of intensity that amounted
almost to obsession. She could never meet a little child without longing to take it
in her arms to cuddle and caress. All the emotion and all sentiment of her nature
climaxed in this adoration for babies and small children.” He reflected, “She was
ever at heart a child—and throughout her life has remained so. In other words,
she never ‘grew up.’”17
Held never had children of her own; she spent her life caring for others,
including the children of Ulysses S. Grant, Jr. and his wife Fannie. When the
Grants came to San Diego in 1893, Held accompanied them as a nanny. It was
during this period in the 1890s that Held began dollmaking—fashioning rag
dolls out of unbleached muslin with faces of various sorts painted by friends
and acquaintances. Some were sold, but many were given away to children.18
Vintage photographs taken of Anna Held at the Green Dragon often show
her with the dolls seated in a line on an old wooden bench outdoors, having a tea
party with children or playing her beloved piano inside her cottage, Wahnfried.
Olive Hap or Olive Mishap occupy a chair nearby, “listening” to Wagner or
Schumann or Weber, all among Held’s favorite composers
In probably the last public interview before Held made her final transatlantic
crossing in 1939, Held’s love for dolls was chronicled in a story for Eileen Jackson’s
“Tete-a-Tete” column in The San Diego Union: “Tante loves people,” Jackson wrote.
“…And next to people she loves dolls.”19
Over the course of her 93 years, Anna Held observed many people living
lives of haps and mishaps. Her own life had its share of ups and downs as well.
So did her two beloved dolls bearing the names of Hap and Mishap. What stories
they would tell—if only the two Olives could talk!
1. Patricia A. Schaelchlin, La Jolla: The Story of a Community, 1887-1987 (San Diego: The Friends
of the La Jolla Library, 1988), 84.
2. H[avrah] H[ubbard], “The Joyous Child (Das froeliche Kind): A Personality Sketch of Anna
Held Heinrich” (1938), 65, 68, San Diego History Center, Subject Files, DOC Heinrich, Anna
Held. This work was later published as The Joyous Child (“Das froeliche Kind”): A Personality
Sketch of Anna Held Heinrich (Lugano, Switzerland: private printing, 1939). A copy is available
at the La Jolla Historical Society.
3. Hubbard, “The Joyous Child,” 51. Queen Palmer and Anna Held attended the performance
with Olive Seward who was friends with Ellen Terry.
4. Ibid., 58-59.
5. Ibid., 59; “Ellen Terry’s Beetlewing Gown Back in Limelight after £110,000 Restoration,” The
Guardian, March 11, 2011; “John Singer Sargent/Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth, 1889,” http://www.
tate.org.uk/art/artworks/sargent-ellen-terry-as-lady-macbeth-n02053 (accessed May 11, 2018).
6. Hubbard, “The Joyous Child,” 63.
7. Ibid., 64.
9. Ibid., 65.
10. Carol Olten, “Reflections: The Dolls of La Jolla,” SDNews.com, January 6, 2011, http://www.
May 10, 2018); Olten, “Reflections: LJVN Column Unites Notable Antique Doll with Historical
Society,” SDNews.com, April 28, 2011, http://www.sdnews.com/view/full_story/12995400/
May 10, 2018); Olten, “Green Dragon…Where the Fun Began,” Timekeeper: The Official Newsletter
of the La Jolla Historical Society 36, no. 3 (Fall-Winter 2017): 14-15.
11. Dorothy A. McGonagle, The Dolls of Jules Nicolas Steiner (Cumberland, MD: Hobby House
12. Elizabeth Ferry Coonley was the daughter of Avery Coonley and his wife Queene Ferry
Coonley. Her parents commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build the Coonley House (1908-
11) in Riverside, IL.
13. Anna Held Heinrich to Elizabeth Ferry Coonley, 1916, Green Dragon Colony Collection, La
Jolla Historical Society.
14. Ibid; Hubbard, “The Joyous Child,” 92.
15. Anna Held Heinrich to Elizabeth Ferry Coonley, 1916, La Jolla Historical Society.
16. Hubbard, “The Joyous Child,” 18-22, 29-44.
17. Ibid., 42.
18. Ibid., 71-72, 91.
19. Eileen Jacks