House Without Windows

The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follet is about a girl who chooses to live in nature and eventually transcends to a higher being. It was written when Barbara was 9, and rewritten at 12 after the manuscript was destroyed in a house fire. In her twenties, she walked out the door of her home, never to return. Touching and disturbing, but somehow fascinating.

Haven’t you been tempted to just walk away? I have been, sometimes drawn by the natural world, sometimes craving a simpler life. What I have discovered this year is that, just walking away from the status quo, life never gets simpler.

Better in some aspects, but not less complex. And quantum physics and other new sciences show that even in nature, randomness and chaos are needed to create order which then dissolves again in a complicated, beautiful ying-yang relationship. The secret to sanity is to accept the chaos, to continuously adapt to the change and embrace it. The tempting horizon is now the Random School instead of the antelope trails of the Great Plains. Let’s use music to create order from the chaos and pain being human engenders.

About the author

Barbara Newhall Follett lived from March 4, 1914 – December 7, 1939 (disappeared)) and was an American child prodigy novelist. Her first novel, The House Without Windows, was published in 1927 when she was thirteen years old. Her next novel, The Voyage of the Norman D., received critical acclaim when she was fourteen.

In 1939 she became depressed with her marriage and walked out of her apartment with just thirty dollars when she was twenty-five years old. She was never seen again.

The daughter of critic and editor Wilson Follett, Barbara Follett was schooled at home and was writing poetry by age four. The House Without Windows, was published when she was thirteen 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. 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.

While still a teenager, she married Nickerson Rogers. Follett believed that Rogers was unfaithful, and became depressed. She left her apartment after a quarrel with Rogers on December 7, 1939, with thirty dollars in her pocket, 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. 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.

Her novel, The Voyage of the Norman, 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; this was the time when her father abandoned her mother.

She wrote two more books – the novel Lost Island and Travels Without a Donkey, a travelogue (the title plays on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey) – which were never published.



Share this: