In a “historical note” appended to “The House Without Windows” the father of the young author lets us into the secret of the happy accident to which we owe what may prove to be the most authentic and unalloyed document of a transient and hitherto unrecorded phase in plastic intelligence.
I have just been reading a book by a girl: it is called The House Without Windows (Knopf) and is by Barbara Newhall Follett, who is twelve years old now, but was nine when first she put this story upon paper. It was scarcely completed when it was destroyed in a fire from which her family had to run for their lives. One would have thought the story was quite gone, for the hardest thing to do with the memory is to bring back something that you have once written down and lost. But Barbara worked at it for three years; by that time it had grown into a longer and even more lovely story, and the author had come to the edge of her ‘teens.
So she set to work on her own typewriter and wrote down the story of Eepersip’s life in the House Without Windows. Fire destroyed the first manuscript in a jealous house with windows which, as I am convinced, burned itself to the ground out of sheer malice. That, I submit, would have settled the matter for most children–and for most adult authors, too. But Barbara (as Carlyle did, after John Stuart Mill’s famous housemaid incinerated the first draft of “The French Revolution”) set to work again. It is a second draft of Eepersip’s story, completed when Barbara was twelve, which is now before us.