LONDON (Reuters) - A shopping chain has withdrawn the sale of beds named Lolita and designed for six-year-old girls after furious parents pointed out that the name was synonymous with sexually active preteens.
Woolworths said staff who administer the website selling the beds were not aware of the connection.
In “Lolita”, a 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, the narrator becomes sexually involved with his 12-year-old stepdaughter — but Woolworths staff had not heard of the classic novel or two subsequent films based on it.
Hence they saw nothing wrong with advertising the Lolita Midsleeper Combi, a whitewashed wooden bed with pull-out desk and cupboard intended for girls aged about six until a concerned mother raised the alarm on a parenting Web site.
“What seems to have happened is the staff who run the Web site had never heard of Lolita, and to be honest no one else here had either,” a spokesman told newspapers.
“We had to look it up on (online encyclopaedia) Wikipedia. But we certainly know who she is now.”
Woolworths said the product had now been dropped.
“Now this has been brought to our attention, the product has been removed from sale with immediate effect,” the chain said.
“We will be talking to the supplier with regard to how the branding came about.”
Reporting by Peter Apps