During the 19th century, two characters in Barnaby Rudge became highly popular. First was Barnaby Rudge, the half-idiotic youth who walked about with a raven named Grip perched on his shoulder (Dickens also had a pet raven named Grip). Second was Dolly Varden, a coquettish young girl, good humored, and beautiful. These two pieces of sheet music illustrate the 19th century clothing style for women, called “Dolly Vardens,” and named after Dickens’s colorfully dressed character. Incidentally, the Dolly Varden trout and the Dolly Varden crab (also known as the Calico crab) take their names from Dickens’s character.
The first piece of sheet music, a quadrille, was published in Philadelphia in 1872. The second, containing a song by Alfred Lee, was published in Cleveland in the same year. The lyrics in this second piece (loosely transcribed) are: “Have you seen my little girl? She doesn’t wear a bonnet. She’s got a monstrous flip-flop hat with cherry ribbons on it. She dresses in bed furniture, just like a flower garden, a blowin’ and a growin’ and they call it Dolly Varden.”