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The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett

The House Without Windows (1927) is an American nine-year-old’s view of the world. Barbara Newhall Follett typed the story on a typewriter to give to her mother as a present. Her father Wilson, an editor at Knopf Publishers, published it when Barbara was twelve. Her next novel, The Voyage of Norman D, was published when she was fourteen. Aged 25 in 1939, she left her marriage and disappeared – never to be seen again.  

Barbara Newhall Follett’s story is about nature. It begins with a short poem: Flowers have faded / Butterfly wings are weary / And far off is the chanting of the eternal sea.

It is the story of a lonely little girl named Eepersip Eigleen, living in a cottage at the foot of Mount Varcrobis with her parents. They make a flower garden together. She ventures further from the yard, into the wild nature of meadows and woodlands, mountains, and sea. She calls this place Nature.  

Barbara Newhall Follett tells of the wonder of Eepersip, seeing a doe and fawn for the first time. Eepersip wants to fly like the swallows and learn more about the plants, the animals, and the landscape. When she does not return home, her parents go looking for her. They see her in the distance, dancing and singing – ‘she was so beautiful, so graceful.’

Eepersip rescues a chipmunk, she writes her own songs and poetry, she climbs trees, she watches the sky, and she speaks to the animals. ‘Something fresh and fragrant in the air made breathing a delight; it almost lifted her off the ground.’

Eepersip sees footprints, human footprints. She has embraced her aloneness, so does she want to return to the world of humans and parents? Does she have to give up the ‘loveliest of soft grass’ and the fairy glades? Does she have to give up her explorations in Nature?

The story is written in three chapters: 1) The Meadow, 2) The Sea, and 3) The Mountains.

Barbara Newhall Follett fills this brief book with the joys of nature, close to home, but more liberating than the restrictions of being inside, in a house without windows. In Eepersip’s outdoor world, Nature is more than a playground; it is the teacher, the guide, and the parents in her adolescent world. 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

MARTINA NICOLLS – MartinaNicollsWebsite

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