Barbara’s makeup birds that would come to inhabit Farksolia. One description per page. From her letter to Mr. Oberg on May 22, 1922:
Talking of eggs reminds me of the makeup birds that I have been writing about. There are eighteen of them and I think they are all quite interesting, but the most interesting ones are the six finourios and the four fisheens. The finourios are all very pretty, but the knowraino finourio has the power to change his coat and also his song before it rains. The fisheens also are quite pretty, and they are the birds that sit on rocks sticking out of the water, and catch fish as they come by. But the short-billed fisheen has to duck his head under water to catch the fish. The total length of the fresh-water fisheen’s bill is six inches; the total length of the salt-water fisheen’s bill is four inches; the total length of the short-billed fisheen’s bill is one and a half inches; and the total length of the silvery fisheen’s bill is four and two eights inches. When you come to see me I will read the rest of the birds to you.
Birds are white, with an olive crown and tail-feathers.… Read more
Barbara began to formulate her imaginary world of Farksolia when she was a few months shy of nine years old—shortly before she began to write her first novel, “A House Without Windows.” She worked on Farksolia for several years, developing the language of Farksoo with its extensive vocabulary and mysterious alphabet.
Barbara described her new world in an essay (undated, but probably when she was nine, in 1923). Excerpts of the essay appeared in Harold McCurdy’s “Barbara: The Unconcious Autobiography of a Child Genius,” but I thought I’d transcribe the whole thing. Here’s the first part.
FARKSOLIA, THE FARKSOLIANS, AND THEIR DETAILS
Farksolia is a separate planet from the earth, and much more interesting. The planet is about twice the size of the earth, and the Farksolians are about twice as highly developed as we are. Or, at least, they were. The Farksolians all agreed, in almost everything. They were all vegetarians, and above anything else they all agreed to live in one big city so that the surrounding landscape would not be spoilt by houses. So that they did, all except a few of the poorer folks. Sheheritzade is the name of the city where they lived. There were eleven queens over Farksolia and all of them were great people.… Read more
The Farksolians were great people for inventions. Almost every one of their thirty-six hour days they invented something. One of the most important days was when one invented the marvelous mail system that they had. In the middle of the city was an electric mail station. From it ran underground passages to each house in the city. The person that wished to send a letter or a message, writes it out, puts it in the passage, pushes an electric button, and off shoots the box through the passage, to the mail station. The man which receives the letter takes it out of the passage and sends it along the underground passage which leads to the house to whom the letter or package is addressed. In the mail system there is a great closet full of cabinets in which are piles of boxes, so that if one was lost it was easy to replace it, and at the station the men were manufacturing them all the time, for they were lost very often. The envelopes to the letters were very varied indeed. For letters containing valuable things the envelopes were sometimes of metal. Though this precaution was not necessary, considering the fact that none of the men at the mail station were cheats, for they were thoroughly tried out by the queen before they were allowed to go into the business.… Read more
The Farksolians had a peculiar cloth something like our crape, but not so heavy and not so rough. The eleven queens were supposed to be all dressed alike, in blue dresses of this material, with some leaf patterns in white, and a white upper part. Then they also had a material much like our silk only much softer. The handmaidens dressed usually in this material usually blue and white, and beautifully draped. The Farksolians uniformly were dark with reddish-brown hair, the young girls not putting their hair up for a long time. Each handmaiden of any queen had to wear an ivory bracelet which the queen presented her when she won service as a handmaiden. This was a true royal sign and no one else was permitted to wear that kind of bracelet. If a handmaiden outside the palace grounds asked someone to walk with her and the person mistrusted the handmaiden, why the handmaiden would only have to show the bracelet and the person might be sure that the girl was a handmaiden.
If Earthans went to Farksolia they would be sick; first from breathing the air. This is because the air is so thin that when you breathe naturally too much flows through the nostrils and into the lungs, it flows so freely there.… Read more
Barbara worked on Farksoo, the language of Farksolia, off and on from the ages of eight until about twenty or twenty-one. Here are six pages of notes, followed by the Farksoo-English lexicon, which I believe was the latest version.… Read more
The Farksolia/Farksoo folder in the Columbia University archives is very full but there are unfortunately important pages missing. Also, the archives do not include the card catalog entries of Farksoo>English and English>Farksoo words that Barbara describes in her correspondence.
Barbara wrote a brief manual on the structure of the language, and here are two versions of it: an early, very-nearly-complete one and a later, not-quite-so-complete one (pages 4 & 7 are missing). The last page in the gallery is a List of Grammatical Words and Symbols.… Read more