[Revised in February 2020]
Barbara Newhall Follett was born in Hanover, New Hampshire, on March 4, 1914. Her parents were the writers and literary critics, Helen (Thomas) Follett and (Roy) Wilson Follett (Wilson was my grandfather). When Barbara was born he was teaching English at Dartmouth College. In 1917 the family moved to Providence, Rhode Island where Wilson taught at Brown University, and a year or two later they moved to New Haven, Connecticut where he briefly worked for Yale University Press before Alfred A. Knopf hired him as an editor at his young publishing house in New York City.
Helen schooled Barbara at home, believing she would receive a better education if free to explore her own interests. Reading and writing were early passions, and her curriculum included corresponding with friends of the family.
A turning point in Barbara’s young life occurred when she became interested in the clacking and ringing of her father’s typewriter. She was four years old. In a very short time she’d taught herself to touch type and was composing stories, poems, and letters on her own machine. When she was a little over five she wrote to Mr. Oberg, proprietor of an antiques shop in Providence:
The goldfinches come every afternoon and eat their supper on the clump of bachelor’s-buttons right on the left-hand side of the path that leads from the back door to our road.… Read more