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
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
From the Woods [cottage by Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire] July 31, 1924
Dear Mr. Oberg:
Needless to say, I am now in the land which Nature loves so much. It is the land of the lake of beauty unsurpassed, it is the land of the little shy nymphs and fairies, that here one sees all the time. Of course, it is Sunapee! Sunapee, the loveliest land in the world! Now of course, that isn’t saying very much, for I have not seen the whole world. I have not even seen the whole of the New England States. There may be lands which are more beautiful in scenery which is always the outside of a land, but there is no land equal to it when you take it from the inside. Now no one really knows what the inside of a land is, but, even if you don’t know, you can always be sure that it is the inside of a land that counts, not the outside. Also, even if one doesn’t know what the inside of a land is, one can usually tell by magical signs whether the inside of one land is better than the inside of another. But that is not of importance.… Read more