The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris
Little Eepersip doesn’t want to live in a house with doors and windows and a roof, so she runs away to live in the wild – first in the Meadow, then by the Sea, and finally in the Mountain. Her heartbroken parents follow her at first, bringing her back home to ‘safety’ and locking her up in the stifling square of the house. But she slips away once more, following her wild heart out of the door and far away…
Barbara Newhall Follett was just thirteen years old when she published The House Without Windows in 1927. The book went on to become a million-copy bestseller. Years later, as an adult herself, Barbara followed in the footsteps of her radical heroine – dissatisfied with the limitations of life as a respectable married woman, she walked out of her house one day and simply disappeared.
Penguin are delighted to republish Barbara Newhall Follett’s extraordinary feminist fable for the next generation of nature lovers and escapees to discover and cherish. Newly introduced by Jackie Morris, and filled with her beautifully inked artwork, The House Without Windows is an irresistible paean to the natural world and its transcendent effect on the human heart.
Barbara Newhall Follett was born in 1914 in New Hampshire and a name that may be not be familiar to many people but by the age of twelve she had written a book that was timeless. I knew of her lost classic The House Without Windows from my younger days but lost over time. But now thanks to the publisher Hamish Hamilton and artist and illustrator Jackie Morris The House Without Windows has been re-issued. I can tell that that the embossed cover is just simply gorgeous and inside Jackie Morris has added illustrations that bring Barbara Newhall Follett’s story alive.
Barbara Newhall Follett
The story actually starts a few years before she reaches the age of twelve and Follett had written the story to give to her mother on her own birthday. But tragedy struck when the family were all asleep and fire ripped through the house. The family survived but they lost nearly everything and Follett’s story was lost in the fire.
So what does the young Follett do next? She spends the next few years recounting every moment of the story and re-writes it almost word for word. It is a remarkable testament to a determined young girl so driven to tell this story of Eepersip trying to escape into the wilderness that is The House Without Windows. Little Eepersip does not want to live in a world of made of bricks and glass she wants to live outdoors and so one day she flees the family home out to the meadow, the sea and where the mountains are. Eepersip is free to walk and feel the fresh air, to see where the wild animals, birds and butterflies live after all they are free. This beautiful story as seen through the eyes of a young child who had a troubled start in life. Follett managed to get her book published and a run of 2,500 copies were printed and all sold.
Suddenly Barbara Newhall Follett’s book became a bestseller and at the age of just twelve she hailed as a bright new star in the world of literature. From here you would think that life would be full of great adventures for Follett she travelled as a new writing star would do. Follett continued to write stories and then in 1934 she married.
On 7th December 1939 she left her apartment that they lived in and was never seen again. There have been over the many year’s various stories as to why she walked out of the apartment. Was it the rejections of her stories or life she living between the four walls and a longing to be free as little Eepersip was, to run to the sea and the mountains. We will never know the answer as to why she disappeared but what Follett left was a beautiful story of a young girl escaping into the wilderness to live in nature.
The House Without Windows cries out not only to be read but to be read outdoors it is beautifully written and just enchanting. Highly Recommended.
The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris has made the 2019 shortlist for the Waterstones book of the year.
Special copies of The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris are available through Number Seven Tales Art and Play Bookshop, Dulverton.
https://www.numbersevendulverton.co.uk/ Jackie Morris has signed copies of the books and there is a silver Snow Hare stamped in the book by Jackie. These are just beautiful collector’s edition copies available and are perfect for Christmas gifts. Telephone the shop for availability and postage. 01398 324457.
My thanks to the publisher Hamish Hamilton for the review copy of The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris. Published on 3rd October 2019 and is available to through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.