Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: Linus's blanket


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The Independent Culture

* If the comic strip Peanuts was, as Charles M Schulz once said, "a study in disappointment", the character of Linus was a wonderful study of insecurity. Sixty years ago this weekend, the bright but somewhat troubled child was pictured carrying a security blanket for the first time. Charlie Brown asks Lucy why he's holding it. "I'm not sure," she replies.

* With the blanket over his shoulder and his thumb invariably in his mouth, Linus represented Schulz's anxious, serious side. "He's the house intellectual," said Schulz, "well-informed, which I suppose may contribute to his feelings of insecurity." Lucy and Rerun, Linus's siblings, hated the blanket, Snoopy perpetually stole it, but Charlie Brown was more well-disposed towards it, even borrowing it on a couple of fraught occasions.

* When a 1956 strip finally gave Linus's blanket a name ("This is a security and happiness blanket") Schulz inadvertently added the phrase "security blanket" to the lexicon.

* Linus's blanket was, according to Schulz, one of 12 "devices" that gave Peanuts a "steadiness, simplicity, universal appeal". The others: the kite-eating tree, Schroeder's piano, Lucy's psychiatry booth, Snoopy, his doghouse, the Red Baron, Woodstock, the unsuccessful baseball team, the unkicked football, the Great Pumpkin and Charlie Brown's unrequited love, the little red-haired girl.

* On April 11, 1983, Linus claimed to be cured of his need for the blanket, but on April 23 it was back . By 1989, however, the security blanket was rarely seen in Peanuts; Schulz explained that Linus had finally "outgrown" it after 35 long years.

* Today, Project Linus (projectlinusuk.org.uk) distributes security blankets to traumatised children across the world.