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Barbara Newhall Follett: A Life in Letters

975 pages16 hours


By the age of fourteen, Barbara Newhall Follett had published two books with Alfred A. Knopf: 1927's enchanting "The House Without Windows and Eepersip's Life There" and 1928's "The Voyage of the Norman D.", the account of her journey from New Haven to Nova Scotia as "cabin boy" on a lumber schooner. Both books received rave reviews in the New York Times and other newspapers.

But that same year Barbara's life turned upside down when her father left his family for a younger woman. With no income, Barbara and her mother went to sea with their typewriters, hoping to earn a living by writing about their adventures. They spent months in the West Indies, then sailed through the Panama Canal to the South Seas, where they spent the rest of the year before returning East. After living in New York City for two years, Barbara's wanderlust returned when she and her future husband embarked on a 600-mile walk in the mountains of New England along the nascent Appalachian Trail. After spending another year exploring Spain and Germany, the couple married and settled in Boston. But in 1939 the marriage soured, and on December 7th of that year, 25-year-old Barbara walked out of her apartment, never to be seen or heard from again.

Happily, Barbara left behind a wealth of letters, stories, essays, poems, and her unpublished novel, "Lost Island." This book, compiled and edited by Barbara's half-nephew, tells the story of Barbara's extraordinary life through her own words as well as those of her family and correspondents.

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