Miss Minchin

February 02, 2011

Eleanor Bron as Miss Minchin in A Little Princess (1995)

If, for some reason, a penniless little girl were to become your ward, you would want to make use of her as a scullery maid. After all, it is only by your mercy and boundless goodness that this child would survive. She could die begging in the streets, after all.

It takes one heartless woman to justify such blatant child abuse, and there is no greater example than Miss Minchin, the villain in the literary classic A Little Princess (1905). Frances Hodgson Burnett did not title this book originally as “What Happened at Miss Minchin’s” for small reason.

As is usual with classic novels, like those by the Brontë sisters, A Little Princess has gone through multiple adaptations for film and TV. With them, Miss Minchin took on many faces, the most memorable being Eleanor Bron as the child-abusive headmistress in the critically acclaimed 1995 movie adaptation. Other than Bron, here are a few other incarnations of Miss Minchin:

Mary Nash in The Little Princess (1939), with Shirley Temple in the title role

Equally cruel in the Japanese anime version

Jean Garcia in the Filipino adaptation, shot on location in the UK

Many faces, one heartless woman. On a lighter note, here is a YouTube gem with Maggie Smith in a role tailor-made for her. Enjoy!

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