Jessie Willcox Smith’s Critique of Teleological Girlhood in <em>The Seven Ages of Childhood</em>: “Sans Everything”

  • Amanda M. Greenwell
Keywords: The Seven Ages of Childhood, Jessie Willcox Smith, The Ladies’ Home Journal, Carolyn Well


This article examines the intertextuality of verbal and visual elements in “The Seven Ages of Childhood,” a series of seven paintings by Jessie Willcox Smith reproduced in The Ladies’ Home Journal in 1908–09, and then bound in book form. Drawing on sources including Smith’s biography, The Ladies’ Home Journal, the captions for each piece (modelled on lines from Shakespeare’s As You Like It), and Carolyn Well’s verse contributions to the book form, this article argues that “Seven Ages” contains a subversive critique of the traditional teleological arc of girlhood, the aim of which was marriageability.


DOI: 10.1353/jeu.2017.0014

Author Biography

Amanda M. Greenwell

Amanda M. Greenwell is a graduate student in Children’s Literature at the University of Connecticut. She is also an instructor in Children’s and YA Literature, English Education, and composition at Central Connecticut State University. Her work has appeared in Children’s Literature, Studies in the Novel, and The Carrollian, as well as in several edited collections.

How to Cite
Greenwell, A. M. (2017). Jessie Willcox Smith’s Critique of Teleological Girlhood in <em>The Seven Ages of Childhood</em&gt;: “Sans Everything”. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 9(1). Retrieved from