'A date with Barbara': paracosms of the self in biographies of Barbara Newhall Follett

Sulway, Nike (2017) 'A date with Barbara': paracosms of the self in biographies of Barbara Newhall Follett. In: Recovering history through fact and fiction: forgotten Lives. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom, pp. 53-67. ISBN 978-1-5275-0325-0


In 1927, 13-year-old Barbara Newhall Follett published her first book, the critically acclaimed novel, The House Without Windows and Eepersip's Life There.

Twelve years later, on December 7, 1939, 25-year-old Barbara quarrelled with her husband and left her apartment in Boston with $30 in her pocket, and a notebook. She was never seen again.

The House Without Windows is set in a paracosm (Farksolia) she invented, and ends with the metamorphosis of the titular character into a 'fairy-a wood nymph … invisible for ever to all mortals, save those few who have minds to believe, eyes to see'.

In Barbara's (auto)biography, The Unconscious Autobiography of a Child Genius (1966), written by Harold Grier McCurdy 'in collaboration with Helen Follett' (Barbara's mother), the authors wonder: 'Can we be far wrong in substituting Barbara's name for Eepersip's in the closing scenes of [House Without Windows]?

In this paper, I grapple with the formal and ethical challenges of writing about Barbara Newhall Follett, and the ways her family and others have approached the problem of writing her unresolved life story: a child raised and educated in solitude, a celebrated 'natural' child author, a young woman whose disappearance remains unsolved. The paper will explore the ways in which adults write the stories of children's lives, as nostalgia and fable, as fairytale and paracosmic narrative, and the ways in which Barbara's biographers have, consciously and unconsciously, created biographical concordances, or paracosms of the self, in seeking to make meaning of her life's story.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2018 03:53
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 04:52
Uncontrolled Keywords: Barbara Newhall Follett
Fields of Research : 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200506 North American Literature
19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190402 Creative Writing (incl. Playwriting)
21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210304 Biography
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/33806

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