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]


Follett was the daughter of critic and editor Wilson Follett. She was schooled at home and was writing poetry by age four.[4] With the help and guidance of her father, Follett was aged 12 when 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][4] Her next novel, The Voyage of the Norman D., was based on her experience on a coastal schooner in Nova Scotia. It was published a year later in 1928. Again it received critical acclaim in many literary publications.

However in the same year her father abandoned her mother for another woman. The event was a devastating blow to Follett who was deeply attached to her father.[3] Despite being only 14, she had reached the apex of her life and career.[4][3]

Subsequently her family fell upon hard times. By the age of 16, as the Great Depression was deepening, Follett was working as a secretary in New York.[3]

Follett 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 married Nickerson Rogers when she was still a teenager. But she soon came to believe that Rogers was being unfaithful to her and became depressed.[3] According to her husband, on December 7, 1939, Follet left their apartment after a quarrel. The 25-year-old writer had only $30 in her pocket. She was never seen again.[4]

Rogers took two weeks to report her missing to the police. Four months later, he requested a missing persons bulletin be issued. No serious effort to find her was ever made.[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]

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. 
  • 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

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]