Daddy Long Legs
Daddy Long Legs
When it was published in 1912, Jean Webster’s Daddy-Long-Legs was an instant success. The New York Times Review of Books deemed it “a whimsical wisp” and praised its “delightful sense of drollery.”
Much of the praise was directed specifically to the author, who impressed critics with her unusual and inspired light touch.
One declared, “Miss Webster has done a rather difficult thing very cleverly indeed. Skill, a delicate touch, and a strong and clear conception of character were necessary in order to make these bubbling letters tell their story of the development of a lonely child into a strong and lovable woman.”
When Jerusha “Judy” Abbott, an eighteen-year-old girl living in an orphan asylum, was told that a mysterious millionaire had agreed to pay for her college education, it was like a dream come true.
For the first time in her life, she had someone she could pretend was "family."
But everything was not perfect—for he chose to remain anonymous and asked that she only write him concerning her progress in school. In fact, she is instructed to write him letters on the proviso that he will never answer, or likely even read them.
At one point, Judy catches a glimpse of the shadow of her benefactor from the back, and knows he is a very tall long-legged man.
Because of this, she jokingly calls him Daddy-Long-Legs.
Webster's tale of an orphan and her unknown, shadowy benefactor is an heart warming love story that unfolds in the pages of a cheerful young woman's letters.
JEAN WEBSTER (1876–1916) was an American author of many books including Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy. Her best-known works feature young female protagonists who come of age intellectually, morally, and socially, but with enough humor, snappy dialogue, and gently biting social commentary to make her books enjoyable to contemporary readers. Jean Webster was a great supporter of women's suffrage and higher education for women. She participated in marches in support of votes for women, and having benefited from her education at Vassar, remained actively involved with the college. Her novels also promoted the idea of education for women, and her major characters explicitly supported women's suffrage.