Barbara Newhall Follett: A Life in Letters
August 16, 2015
6.14 X 1.28 X 9.21 inches | 1.94 pounds
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About the Author
Born in 1914 into a literary family, Barbara Newhall Follett published her first novel with Alfred A. Knopf--THE HOUSE WITHOUT WINDOWS--when she was twelve. It was widely praised throughout the United States and Great Britain. Eleanor Farjeon, who composed the hymn Morning Has Broken, wrote: These pages simply quiver with the beauty, happiness, and vigour of forests, seas, and mountains.... I can safely promise joy to any reader of it. Perfection. In 1927 Barbara convinced her parents to let her sail on an old trading schooner from her home in New Haven, Connecticut, to Nova Scotia; and the following year Knopf published THE VOYAGE OF THE NORMAN D.--her remarkable description of the voyage. Barbara's literary career looked bright, but shortly before publication her father deserted his family for a younger woman. Barbara was devastated, but convinced her mother that their best recourse was to go to sea with their typewriters. After ten months at sea Barbara met and fell in love with a sailor, Edward Anderson. After moving to New York during the early months of the Great Depression, Barbara began writing her third and last book--LOST ISLAND--which mirrors her own life and that of her wandering sailor's. Soon, however, she would meet a new beau, Nickerson Rogers. Both devotees of woods and mountains, the couple spent the summer of 1932 walking the Appalachian Trail from Katahdin to the Massachusetts border. After a year exploring Europe they married in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1934. Five years later, with the marriage failing, Barbara walked out of her home and was not heard from again. She was twenty-five.
Laura E. Smith: "This is such a beautiful collection--not to mention a fascinating story. Barbara's life is equal parts inspiring and haunting. I am particularly fond of the letters to her fellow shipmates (the girl had guts!) and "ADR." Barbara had such a striking voice and is a modern figure in so many ways. She traveled all over the world by sea, traversed part of the Appalachian Trail, and published a novel at twelve. Stefan Cooke, the collection's editor, has such a gentle touch, offering introductions and explanations to Barbara's letters when necessary. I would recommend this to anyone who loves the outdoors or an intriguing, occasionally confounding story about a young girl searching for the best way to live." Tim: "Amazing book! Reading the letters from Barbara, especially the early ones, you really get a sense just what a genius she really was, which makes what happened all the more a tragedy. I hope this book, along with all the recent interest in Barbara's life help keep her work alive long after she left us. Stefan Cooke did a great job of letting Barbara come to us through her words, without editorializing or injecting his own armchair psychoanalysis. He just gives us well researched and nuanced context that helps us understand."