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Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Barbara Newhall Follett papers, 1919-1966 [Bulk Dates: 1919-1939] 

Creator: 
Follett, Barbara Newhall, 1914-1939.
Phys. Desc: 
2.73 linear feet (6.5 document boxes)
Call Number: 
MS#0439
Location: 
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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Biographical Note

Barbara Newhall Follett was born on March 4, 1914. Her parents were Wilson Follett, an English professor and a writer, and Helen Thomas Follett, also a writer. Barbara was homeschooled by her mother, who believed that children should learn at their own pace. At the age of five, Barbara started to use the typewriter and learned how to make new words and form sentences. She also began to write letters to relatives and friends. During her childhood years, she wrote numerous short stories, essays, and poems about nature. Barbara had a vivid imagination and created a make-believe world called Farksolia, in which she also developed its language and vocabulary. Her first book, House Without Windows, was published in 1927, when she was thirteen years old. It was critically acclaimed and she wrote another book, The Voyage of the Norman D, that was published the following year, She was hailed as a “child genius” and “a child prodigy author” by newspapers around the country. She made the headlines again when she and her mother went on a long sailing voyage to the Caribbean and the South Seas Islands during the late 1920s. They co-authored a book about their trip together and it was published in 1932 as Magic Portholes. After her father left the family in 1928, Ms. Follett and her mother had to find a way of bringing in steady income between their writing assignments. Starting at sixteen years of age, she worked as a typist in New York City while living with her mother. From her late teens to her early twenties, she traveled extensively in the U.S. and Europe with her boyfriend and then husband, Nickerson Rogers. On December 7, 1939, after an argument with her husband, Barbara Follett left their apartment with only a few dollars. She was never seen or heard from again. She was twenty-five years old.

Scope and Contents

Barbara Follett's papers primarily consist of personal letters, manuscripts of published and unpublished works, photographs, newspaper clippings, and research materials relating to her autobiography that was published in 1965. The correspondence was originally processed by year and the current arrangement reflects this order. Select letters were also catalogued and arranged by special friends of Ms. Follett.