Let me take you for a moment to a window for a glimpse into the mind of a brilliant eight-year-old girl, Miss Barbara Newhall Follett, who put her fingers to keys in 1923 and ended up with The House Without Windows & Eepersip's Life There. The story begins with a little girl named Eepersip who lives in a cottage with her parents at the edge of a meadow. She asks to grow a beautiful flower garden in her backyard and spends most of her time basking in the sun and admiring the blooms. One day she packs a picnic and wanders off into the forest never to return.
Eepersip's journey reifies the attractions that all children have to moss, daffodils, bubbling brooks and fireflies. We watch as Eepersip becomes a wood nymph, a sprite, a forest fairy and we too are transformed by a longing to be free, to leap in the meadow while butterflies kiss our elbows, our bellies full of ripe blackberries.
What is most remarkable to me about Eepersip's path into the forest is that her renouncement of civilization stems not from lack but from love. Every moment in the story is infinite. Every glance, taste and step is a new world for her to enjoy. She is an otherworldly being who climbs the highest peaks and navigates the open sea, and whisks her little sister away with the scent of honeysuckle.
I am awestruck by how perfectly the book captures the sublime beauty of the natural world.
This little white figurine reminds me of Eepersip's kitten Snowflake, whom she steals from two little girls, Caireen and Flitterveen (WHAT NAMES!).
The House Without Windows was written by Barbara as a present for her mother. After the encouragement of her father, she revised it for print. I have photographed the entire Historical Note written by Barbara's father, Wilson Follett, and it describes in detail the circumstances of the book. The rest of Barbara's story is quite sad, The Lapham Quarterly wrote a small article on her and her disappearance from the world.
I am anxious to find a copy of Barbara: The Unconscious Autobiography of a Child Genius, which is a collection of Barbara's writings compiled by her mother and an editor. Also, please let me know if you hear of a copy of The Voyage of Norman D. floating around.
The House Without Windows is difficult to get your hands on and I was lucky to have been gifted it earlier this year. I waited for the perfect afternoon to start the book and put it down when the sun set, it didn't come out again until a recent sun-filled day and I finished it with delight. When a book is this special, it commands a moment a wonderful as it in which to be consumed.
A beautiful painting of the sea by my grandmother. Can't you just see Eepersip bobbing in the waves?