Barbara Newhall Follett

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Barbara Newhall Follett
Barbara Newhall Follet.jpg
Born March 4, 1914
Died Unknown. (Disappeared – December 7, 1939)
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Notable works The House Without Windows, (1927)
The Voyage of the Norman D., (1928)

Barbara Newhall Follett[1] (born March 4, 1914[2] – December 7, 1939 (disappeared)) was an American child prodigy novelist.[3] Her first novel, The House Without Windows, was published in January, 1927, when she was twelve years old. Her next novel, The Voyage of the Norman D., received critical acclaim when she was fourteen.[3]

In 1939, aged 25, she reportedly became depressed with her marriage and walked out of her apartment with just thirty dollars. She was never seen again.[4]

Personal life[edit]

The daughter of critic and editor Wilson Follett, Barbara Follett was schooled at home and was writing poetry by age four.[4] Her first novel, The House Without Windows, was published when she was twelve years old, with the help and guidance of her father.

When she was fourteen her father left her mother for another woman, a devastating blow to Barbara who was deeply attached to her father.[3] The family fell upon hard times, and at the age of sixteen, as the Great Depression was gaining momentum, Follett was, from necessity, working as a secretary in New York.[3]

While still a teenager, she married Nickerson Rogers. Follett believed that Rogers was unfaithful, and became depressed.[3] According to Rogers, she left her apartment after a quarrel on December 7, 1939, with thirty dollars in her pocket,[4] and was never seen again. She was twenty-five years old.

Rogers did not contact the police until two weeks later, and requested a missing persons bulletin four months after that; no serious effort to find her was ever made by anyone.[3] Her body was never found, no evidence either indicating or excluding foul play was ever produced, and the date and circumstances of her death were never established.[3]

Writing career[edit]

Her first novel, The House Without Windows, was accepted and published in 1927 by the Knopf publishing house to critical acclaim by the New York Times, the Saturday Review, and H. L. Mencken.[3] Follett was thirteen years old,[4] and famous.

Her next novel, The Voyage of the Norman D., based on her experience on a coastal schooner in Nova Scotia, was published in 1928, again to critical acclaim in major publications. Follett was fourteen, and had reached the apex of her life and career,[4] as this was the time when her father abandoned her mother.[3]

She wrote several more manuscripts, including the novel-length Lost Island and Travels Without a Donkey, a travelogue (the title plays on Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey).


  • Follett, Barbara Newhall. (1927). The House Without Windows & Eepersip's Life There. New York, London: Knopf. OCLC 870940 (Reprinted 1968, New York: Avon Camelot.)
  • Follett, Barbara Newhall. (1928). The Voyage of the Norman D.. New York, London: Knopf. OCLC 3561118

Unpublished works[edit]

  • Travels Without a Donkey, a travelogue.
  • Lost Island

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Barbara Newhall Follett Papers, 1919–1966". Columbia University Archive Collection. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  2. ^ Follett, Barbara N., The House Without Windows, Knopf, 1927, Historical Note by Wilson Follett, p. 156
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Paul Collins (December 2010). "Vanishing Act". Lapham's Quarterly. Archived from the original on 1 January 2011. Retrieved January 2, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Books: Tragedy in a Hothouse". Time Magazine. June 3, 1966. Archived from the original on 1 February 2011. Retrieved January 3, 2011. 
  5. ^ NPR Staff (December 18, 2010). "Barbara Newhall Follett, Disappearing Child Genius". National Public Radio. Retrieved January 4, 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • McCurdy, Harold Grier (1966). Barbara: The Unconscious Autobiography of a Child Genius. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina. ISBN 978-0-8078-0989-1. 
  • Wood, Naomi (1995). "Who Writes and Who Is Written?: Barbara Newhall Follett and Typing the Natural Child". Children's Literature (Project Muse) 23 (1): 45–46. doi:10.1353/chl.0.0184. 

External links[edit]