Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

Daddy-Long-Legs cover

Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster was first published in 1912 but my copy dates from 1929 and it was a recent purchase of mine. It’s one of the many books aimed at younger people that I didn’t read when I was young. I have to admit though that I had been under the impression that this one was for much younger children so I was surprised to discover that Miss Jerusha Abbott is in fact 17 years old when she begins writing her letters to her benefactor Daddy-Long-Legs.

She gives up on her given name Jerusha (who wouldn’t?) and decides to be known as Judy. She has been brought up in an orphanage and obviously lacks love and attention but the staff recognise that she’s brighter than most of the children there and she’s allowed to stay on at school longer than most. When the dreaded monthly visit of the trustees comes around Judy is noticed by one particular trustee who decides to pay for her college tuition – it’s a miracle.

Her benefactor wishes to remain anonymous but Judy saw a silhouette of a long-legged man whom she guesses is her benefactor, hence she calls him Daddy-Long-Legs. He does want her to send him letters though and so begins Judy’s one sided correspondence with him.

Judy is an excitable and exuberant seventeen year old, immature by modern day standards I think but she’s very lovable although to me by the time she reaches the age of twenty-one she doesn’t seem much older. It’s quite obvious from fairly early on in the book what is going to happen, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this charming book.

I bought my copy of the book in Pitlochry, a small Scottish Highland town and I was amazed to see that it has a small rubber stamp in it which says Perkin, Grant and CI 542 Cangallo BUENOS AIRES. I think that must have been the bookshop it was originally sold in. I just wish that all our books could tell us where they’ve been in their journeys from being published to ending up in our hands, sometimes a couple of hundred years later in my case anyway. I do know that the original owner of this one was called Eileen Bannerman as she wrote her name in pencil inside it and the date 17th July, 1929.