So, what to make of Anne? In my memory from childhood reading she was quite annoyingly domesticated and being told she was a ‘proper little housewife’ was a compliment of the highest order. Approached from an adult and 21st century perspective, I am a lot more sympathetic to Anne. Yes, she does do ALL the cooking, sandwich making etc. (and yes, on occasion forces poor George to help on the grounds that she is a girl) but she also tells the rest of the gang “You ought to be glad I like messing about with the food and getting it ready for you” (Five Get Into Trouble). So in fact she’s a bit of a 1940s Nigella Lawson prototype and if making others happy through providing domestic delights is her cup of tea, well, that’s fair enough (although I still think she should bargain with the boys a bit more and get them to pull their weight. Surely washing up can’t be that enjoyable, even if you have found a convenient spring and basin-shaped rock pool).
Anne’s not completely passive either. In Billycock Hill (one of my favourite FF stories) she gets quite grumpy when pondering noise pollution of the countryside by tourists playing their records too loudly. The theme of Anne’s inner ‘tiger’ is continued later in the series. In the penultimate adventure, Five Have a Mystery to Solve, Anne gets so irate with animal-loving Wilfred that she tips a bucket of water over him. Rather than making him angry this actually inspires a bit of a crush on his part: ‘”I’m sorry too,” he mumbled. “You’re nice – and your nose is like that baby rabbit’s – it’s – it’s a bit woffly.”‘ No comment.
Whereas the rest of the Kirrin (Barnard?) cousins tend to live in shorts and jumpers, Anne prefers to be a bit more feminine. Her wardrobe proves you can cycle comfortably in a skirt – if Anne lived in modern day London she would probably shop at the fabulous Cycle Chic.
‘The morning was a very warm. Soon the children began to feel wet with perspiration. They had blazers on and they took them off, tying them round their (bicycle) baskets. George looked more like a boy than ever, with her short curly hair blown up by the wind. All of them wore shorts and thin jerseys except Anne, who had on a little grey skirt. She rolled up the sleeves of her jersey, and the others did the same’. (Five Get into Trouble).
Likes: the domestic arts, the colour red. Would like to be an artist.
Dislikes: Insects and reptiles.
Quotes: ‘George glowed. She liked Julian to say she was like a boy. She didn’t want to be petty and catty and bear malice like many girls did. But Anne looked a little indignant.
“It isn’t only boys that can learn to give in decently, and things like that,” she said. “Heaps of girls do. Well, I jolly well hope I do so myself!”‘(Five on Kirrin Island Again)