“John, you’re an old kidnapper, that’s what you are!”
“Sure I’m glad, but I think you’re a menace to the country, all the same.”
“What do you propose to do about it, Janie?”
“That’s just what I’m trying to figure out. Dangerous business, you know, to transplant a person several hundred miles without even giving them a chance to breathe. New York — presto! — the Maine woods.”
“But you are glad?”
“Yes, that’s the one flaw in my arguments. I am glad.”
“I want to be — oh, awfully good to you, Jane. After all, I took you away, almost by main force, to spend your nasty little two-weeks vacation at my sister’s house in Portland, and now I’ve got to be good.”
“You’re incredible, Johnnie. I always knew that — ever since you said: ‘Why doon’t ye pin a note on the duck?’ Remember?”
John threw back his head and laughed happily.… Read more
Although the name of the mountain hut isn’t given in Barbara’s story, she can only be referring to Lakes of the Clouds, which is about an hour’s walk from the summit of New England’s highest peak, Mt. Washington. Oakes Gulf, where “Jo” makes camp, is not far from the hut, to the south-south-east, between today’s Dry River Trail and Davis Path. It is beautiful country.
MOTHBALLS IN THE MOON by Barbara Newhall (sic) c/o N. Rogers, 3 Perrin Road, Brookline, Mass.
A wild dawn with the bare peak cutting it sharply–a surge of fire, setting aflame the wings of mist that clung about the tallest mountain of them all, the one that jutted up across an abyss of shadows. Nearer peaks stood in a long half circle, waiting for the sun. The distance was a blur of deep blue. Ravines were a nameless purple mystery. On the nearest peak, at its very summit, two figures stood in silhouette against red clouds–very small figures, alone and exalted. Each carried a pack. They were pilgrims, standing in awe before the creation of a world.
The sun thrust bright spears upward, and the mountains changed–softened a little through golden haze. Patches of yellow grass grew more yellow between gray rocks.… Read more
In the summer of 1931, Barbara, Nick Rogers, and two friends spent some time camping and exploring the Katahdin area of Maine. Later, Barbara wrote about her relationship with the great mountain entitled Rocks.
Transcribing Rocks was a moving experience for me. I’ve climbed Katahdin three times and remember many of the landmarks Barbara describes: Chimney Pond, The Chimney, The Monument, Pamola Peak, and, of course, Knife-Edge, one of the more exhilarating 1.1 miles of trail I’ve walked. Here’s a taste of what it’s like, with thanks to YouTube user roh92cp:
This was the “Knife-Edge” of Mount Katahdin. It was a ragged edge of rock suspended in a space of clouds.
I was trying to climb backwards down a bristling hump, and the foothold I had got up by seemed to have vanished. I felt for it helplessly with one foot. I couldn’t see below, because the rocks were in the way. There seemed nothing to do. I clung, trembling a little. All around, great swift drops into space that swirled with mist. Everything was wet–grasses and hardy vines were pearled with small drops; so were my hair and eyelashes.
I took a chance, and jumped, backwards, for a narrow ledge below.… Read more
THE HOUSE WITHOUT WINDOWS AND EEPERSIP’S LIFE THERE By Barbara Newhall Follett. 166 pp. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. $2.
Reviewed by Henry Longan Stuart. New York Times, February 6, 1927
In a “historical note” appended to “The House Without Windows” the father of the young author lets us into the secret of the happy accident to which we owe what may prove to be the most authentic and unalloyed document of a transient and hitherto unrecorded phase in plastic intelligence. “Almost above all,” says Mr. Wilson Follett (he has been telling of such special circumstances as a home education between child and parents in the great out of doors), “having used a typewriter as a plaything for a time she cannot remember, who was able to rattle off an easy 1,200 words an hour, without any awareness of the physical process, years before penmanship could have developed half the proficiency, even with intense concentration on the physical process alone.” Among all the implications to which this truly remarkable little book will give rise, the hint that a drudgery which invention has outdated may be slowing down mental processes at a critical mental age deserves at least a place.… Read more
THE HOUSE WITHOUT WINDOWS. By Barbara Newhall Follett. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1927. $2 Reviewed by Lee Wilson Dodd
This strange, delightful, and lovely book was written by a little girl as a present for her mother. When Barbara Follett has a birthday, she always gives her mother a present. Unhappily, one cannot commend this gentle custom to other children, since it loses all charm if not originally thought of by the giver. Barbara thought of it and adopted it; and when she was nine, she decided that on her tenth birthday she would make her mother a special present. [In fact, Barbara finished her story a few days after her ninth birthday, not her tenth.] So she set to work on her own typewriter and wrote down the story of Eepersip’s life in the House Without Windows. Fire destroyed the first manuscript in a jealous house with windows which, as I am convinced, burned itself to the ground out of sheer malice. That, I submit, would have settled the matter for most children–and for most adult authors, too. But Barbara (as Carlyle did, after John Stuart Mill’s famous housemaid incinerated the first draft of “The French Revolution”) set to work again.… Read more
In: The American Girl, June, 1927 Barbara Follett Writes a Book by May Lamberton Becker
I have just been reading a book by a girl: it is called The House Without Windows (Knopf) and is by Barbara Newhall Follett, who is twelve years old now, but was nine when first she put this story upon paper. It was scarcely completed when it was destroyed in a fire from which her family had to run for their lives. One would have thought the story was quite gone, for the hardest thing to do with the memory is to bring back something that you have once written down and lost. But Barbara worked at it for three years; by that time it had grown into a longer and even more lovely story, and the author had come to the edge of her ‘teens.
It is the tale of a little girl named Eepersip, who lived with her parents in a house with a garden, pretty enough but set in a countryside far more interesting. So one day Eepersip packed a little lunch basket and started out.
“… She went east from her home on a shady path through beautiful woodlands, with her and there a grove of great massive pines.… Read more
Published in the February, 1933, issue of The Horn Book Magazine
In Defense of Butterflies by Barbara Newhall Follett
A flash of black and orange outside the upstairs window; I sprang up, leaving arithmetic problems to solve themselves. “Butterfly!” I yelled, for the information of anyone who wanted to know. I grabbed my net and raced outdoors. A butterfly as lustrous as the one that had just sailed by was a tremendous adventure. Ever so much more exciting than arithmetic! what did anyone care about stodgy old numbers when the sun was shining and there were butterflies about?
I chased the shining wings over to a big red rhododendron bush. He hovered at the top of it, sampling flowers ruminatively, then swooped off toward the wide green field, I after him, net in hand, with all the energy of any healthy nine-year-old who wants very badly to capture a large black and orange butterfly.
My collection! Sheets and sheets of paper, a good-sized manuscript. But where were the butterflies? They were all safe and free, playing out in the field in the sunlight, communing subtly with buttercups. This butterfly collection did not consist of dry, faded wings. I had typewritten long, detailed descriptions of these iridescent friends, not couched in entomological terms, because I knew none, but in the prettiest words I could conjure up.… Read more