Daddy-Long-Legs & Dear Enemy (Daddy-Long-Legs #1-2)

ISBN: 0143039067
ISBN 13: 9780143039068
By: Jean Webster Elaine Showalter

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About this book

One of the great novels of American girlhood, Jean Webster's Daddy-Long- Legs (1912) follows the adventures of an orphan named Judy Abbott, whose letters to her anonymous male benefactor trace her development as an independent thinker and writer. Its sequel, Dear Enemy (1915), also told in letters, follows the progress of Judy's former orphanage now run by her friend Sallie McBride, who struggles to give her young charges hope and a new life. Full of irrepressible female characters that both recall Alcott's Jo March and anticipate the popular heroines of contemporary literature, Webster's novels are witty, heartfelt, and delightfully modern.

Reader's Thoughts

Mayday Maddie

This was recommended to me by a fellow teen center advisor -- an avid bookreader -- as her favorite book...And I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! It don't know if it is my "favorite" book, but it certainly ranks up there. The novel is completely epistolary (written in letters) making it double the awesome.It follows the correspondance of a grateful orphan to the anonymous benefactor who paid in full for her to attend Princeton University and become a professional writer. The requirement for her allowance was a monthly letter, which he may/may not read (and never respond to), to keep her in writing practice and to let him know the $$$ was received. They were supposed to be written as though to the family member/friend named "Mr. Smith" Jerusha Abbott never had.The letters are comical and witty, accompanied with ludicrous drawings. The humor is subtle, but startling when you realize that the book was published nearly 100 YEARS AGO in 1912. It's just one of those books that makes you happy... A new one in my department of literature.I am proud to say I guessed who the anonymous benefactor was -- "Daddy-Long-Legs" (the only glimpse she has seen of him was his shadow, cast upon a wall [which made his legs appear thin, wiry and long]) -- but probably because I ahve more Agatha Christie than is healthy. I tend to pick apart regular books with clues like they are crimes... only not. Really sweet read, one I highly recommend for a day when you are feeling particularly gloooooooooomy.


Daddy-Long-Legs was one of my favorite books as a kid. I loved this book so much that when I finished reading the book I was very upset with myself for reading it so quickly. I have read it again and again. The movie is somewhat disappointing but that's usually the case. I have not read Dear Enemy yet and I am so excited to get started. Guess I'll have to re-read Daddy-Long-Legs to remember everything what's going on.

Carlyn Brody

I love classic school themed books. The books are usually about some kid going to boarding school and how their life is during the school year. What I love about them is the freedom that young people use to have in those days and how they use to entertain themselves. Doesn’t Daddy Long Legs sound like a book about spiders? The book is about an orphaned girl named Judy Abbott who goes to college. To be honest, I don’t like the title of the book at all. I think it’s too juvenile a title for a girl going to college and the fact that she calls her benefactor Daddy Long Legs is very childish. The book starts with the overseers of the orphanage discussing Judy and how she was too old to live at the orphanage and needs to earn her own living. Fortunately, one of the benefactors of the orphanage sees that Judy has a talent for writing and offers to fund her college education. The manager of the orphanage tells Judy that her benefactor has one condition about the scholarship. His one condition is that he wishes to remain anonymous to her and that she is to write a letter to him about her schooling. Judy is also told to expect no reply to any of her letters as he is a busy man. Judy thinks she saw her benefactor one night at the orphanage. She thinks of him as all arms and legs like a daddy long leg spider so that’s how she addresses him in her letters. After all, he said that he would never reply to the letters so she can call him what she likes!Judy’s letters offer an interesting insight on college life in the 19th century. During that time, only wealthy women went to college. Rich families sent their daughters to college so that they could become more accomplished before entering society. Other girls had to make their own living so a college education provided them with more career prospects. It was still in a time that women were expected to quit their jobs when they got married so some people felt that college was an expensive waste of time for women. When Judy goes to college, she learns that she lived a very sheltered life. She has never been on a train, never read fairy tales, gone to plays or worn new clothing. Judy also hides the fact that she is an orphan and pretends that her letters to Daddy Long Legs are letters to various family members. At college, Judy does a wide variety of courses and activities. She does biology, literature, philosophy, physics and she played basketballs, starred in plays, did gymnastics and swimming. I felt that as Judy was a novice in the world that it helped the reader go on a journey with her through early 19th century life in America. I also found it fascinating to learn that basketball that women were playing it in the early 19th century too.There’s also a love story in Daddy Long Legs that I didn’t really dwell on. I was more interested in Judy’s social and academic life. Judy has two love interests in the story but it’s obvious who she would pick. I thought they were a good match because they were so similar. I also found it a little incestuous because he had a paternal air to him. I found Judy Abbott to be an enthusiastic and strong heroine. I admired how she was eager to try new things even though she was worried sometimes about whether she did them properly. Judy also worked hard and never took anything for granted as she never had anything at the orphanage. I kinda disapproved on how she hid the fact that she was an orphan from her friends as if it was something shameful. Judy lied about presents she received from Daddy Long Legs, pretending they came from various family members. On one occasion, she bought a hat suitable for an old woman and sent it to Daddy Long Legs to pretend that he was her grandma. However, I do understand the context of that time. If you came from an orphanage, one could imply that you are a love child which was very shameful in those times.

Suzanne Stephens

Somehow I completely missed this book when growing up. Just read about it recently on the yarnstorm blog. The blog's author--("blogress"?)is working on a book about the foods from famous children's literature. What a fun project and how jealous am I that I didn't think of that!! Anyway--if you missed Daddy-Long-Legs and the sequel, Dear Enemy, when growing up, it's not too late! What delightful books! Improbable? Yes--but suspend that disbelief and just enjoy!(If you get the Penguin Edition--which contains both DLL & DE, DO NOT read the introduction before reading the story. It detracts from the story on several levels, but the most serious crime is that it is a spoiler--and you won't want Daddy-Long-Legs, the mysterious benefactor, unveiled before his time. There are a number of things I really appreciate about Penguin Editions--but their "intros" are not one of them. They really need to be put at the back of the book to be read AFTER the book itself. Then the reader can decide if they agree with the analysis of the scholar writing the "intro" instead of having their experience of the book colored by the critic's slant.)

Janice (Janicu)

A really charming classic; this is the story of Jerusha who grew up in a charity home and has just been given a scholarship to go to university. Her mysterious benefactor (who wants to be known only as Mr. John Smith) asks only one thing: that Jerusha write him every month with an update on what she is learning, but not to expect any reply. Because Jerusha saw him walking away once in the fading light and had an impression of a tall man with a long shadow like a spider, she nicknames him Daddy Long-Legs, and procedes to write him very cheerful and cheeky letters; far more often than once a month. Here's an example:"Dear Daddy-Long-Legs, You never answered my question and it was very important. ARE YOU BALD?". This continues throughout the 4 years and of course at the end we find out who Daddy Long-Legs is.


A delightful young adult read. I am fond of books writen at the turn of the century. The writing is lyrical, the descriptions imaginative, and the grammar beautiful. Jean Webster has written a captivating book about an orphan from The John Grier Home. A mysterious benefactor offers to put her through college who she nick-names Daddy Long Legs. Jerusha (Judy) Abbot must write a monthly letter to the unknown benefactor, and will receive no answers. I enjoyed listening to her letters without expecting replies. I enjoyed the approach of a book written through the letters of another. A bit of intrigue, coming of age, hard ships, and a romance. My daughter and I listened to this book on a road trip and found it very enjoyable. I love reading a wide variety of books, but I love and feel more satisfied when returning to classic literature.


Reading is a pleasure, ain't it! And it is more interesting when you discover a book out of the blue and it turns out to be a masterpiece!One of the many reasons why I LOVE the blogging world, is because " you find books everyday, out of the blue".So there I was hopping around my Google Reader from blog to blog, reading what had been going on in each of my friends reading lives, when I chanced upon a review of a book named Daddy-Long-Legs (and Dear Enemy) by Jean Webster on Nymeth's Blog! Now, what was that?! I went back again to make sure I had read the title right! Yes, I did! And then read the review too.. and if you guys read Nymeth's blog, you know how she can make you LONG to read a book she has loved :) and that's exactly what I FELT!So off I went in search of this little epistolary novel first published in 1912! 1912? It has to be available online, I thought... and Good God, there it was... you got to LOVE Project Gutenberg []!This is an epistolary novel about a girl from an orphanage who is given the opportunity to attend college by a benevolent trustee of the orphanage whose only demand is a letter outlining her progress in college.So this is what I have been busy reading every free minute I had in front of my computer and I tell you it is a DELIGHTFUL read. I have had that smile on my face since I started reading this one! I love it totally!!So in tab, of the happy-go-lucky book hunting that I have been doing, I think this has to be one of the best classics I have read so far. It is just AWESOME! It is a small book... full of life and inspiration and I LOVE this author. I mean, what imagination!!OK, I am not going to BORE you guys anymore, you ought to go read it and spread the word, I am sure you will LOVE Judy, her imagination and her happy-go-lucky attitude. Oh! you have so much to learn from this 17-18 yr old! Anybody can rise to a crisis and face a crushing tragedy with courage, but to meet the petty hazards of the day with a laugh--I really think that requires SPIRIT.So true, don't you think?!Jamais je ne t'oublierai, Judy! [ I will never forget, Judy!:]


A most delightful book. A charming, fluffy, sweet little literary morsel. The only downer is. . . the heroine decides to become a Fabian Socialist. NOOOO!!! But other than that, a truly delightful read, as I believe I mentioned. Highly recommended for fans of L.M. Montgomery, Grace Livingston Hill, and other similar authors.Now, to read the sequel: "Dear Enemy". And I must also watch the Fred Astaire musical and the Mary Pickford silent film, though I doubt either will be half as magical as the book.

Elisha Condie

I'm somewhere between "liked" and "really liked" this book. The heroine Jerusha Abbott has a great narrative voice, but I found myself getting a little weary of what I felt like was her complete clulessness (is that a word?) about the love interest in the story. It was so obvious that by the time the big reveal came I didn't feel surprised or happy just glad that they finally got it out. Jerusha did remind me of Cassandra Mortmain or even Juliet in the "Guernsey Literary.." book and I liked her a lot, though not as much as I do the heroines I just mentioned. And for some reason the fact that she addresses her letters to her secret benefactor "Daddy Long Legs" or just "Daddy" sort of bugged me. I didn't like her calling him Daddy - especially when you realize who he really is. "Daddy" just seemed...wrong, somehow. But it's an upbeat, happy little read and one you can finish in a night or two. Sometimes those hit the spot.


One of my all-time favs from childhood... just re-read it to find it's still a laugh-out-loud page-turner. Never knew about the sequel till now, but it's every bit as golden as the first. Wit, warmth, sass and sparkle (the alive kind)! Great for and age or stage, though 'Dear Enemy' would fly above the heads of most children younger than their mid teens.


The classic story of orphaned Jerusha Abbot, rescued from a bleak future by one of the trustees of the orphanage which she's now outgrown. Convinced by the Home's Superintendant that Jerusha is a worthy cause, the trustee agrees to put her through college, on two conditions: one, that he remain anonymous and two, that Jerusha � who very quickly rechristens herself Judy � write him a letter every month. Judy, with nobody else with whom to share her wonder as she gradually discovers the world outside the John Grier home, more than lives up to her bargain. The result is a fly-in-amber portrait of life at an American women's college at the turn of the last century, twinned with an enduring and affecting love story.[return][return]Or so I thought when I first read it. Over the years it has come to dawn on me that, actually, Daddy-Long-Legs himself is a little bit creepy and stalkerish & but that's late 20th century culture talking, and we would be far better off accepting the story at face value, and as a product of its time. And, as a product of its time, this is actually pretty progressive: Judy is no helpless Cinderella, but is determined to stand on her own two feet. Her ambition is to be a writer, and write she does � and the first thing she does on receipt of her first publisher's cheque is to start repaying Daddy-Long-Legs the cost of her education. Now, that's a heroine I can relate to.[return][return]Judy's tribulations as she struggles with manuscript after manuscript will resonate with any would-be writer, and her life at college and beyond is both eminently memorable and delightful.


This book is just so great. I loved it! Julie is a great character, and although her voice is a little dated, it still works. It's set in a different time period, so the dated voice of the narrator works. I liked reading her diary, and although I did guess the identity of her benefactor early on, I loved watching her come to that realization. I enjoyed this book immensely, and think that you should read it too. It is geared toward a younger audience, but I sitll think it's fun and definitely worth a read.


Daddy-Long-Legs & Dear Enemy are sweet, old-fashioned books that I am sad to say I never knew about when I was young. Very glad to have read them now.


I just remembered "Daddy Long-Legs", a book that I really loved as a young teen. My mother gave this to me when I was something between 12 and 14 because she had read it when she was younger and she thought I might like it. I read this book quite a few times when I was younger (I read it in German back then and I've never actually read the original). I just really liked the character of Judy Abott and the way she had this whole new world to explore after spending her whole life in an orphanage, how there was so much for her to learn and so many books to read. I just checked on Wikipedia and it was actually written in 1912, which is so weird, because when I was young I always thought it was written in the 50s - I guess because the edition I had was published in the 50s. I have this image in my head of Judy sitting in her room in college in this tower in her window seat, reading (and it's snowing outside). It's strange sometimes, how certain images just stick with you even if you don't remember much about the book (although I remember this one quite well because I read it so many times). I didn't have a clue at the time what the word "Communist" meant, but I was convinced that I was one because Judy wrote in one of her letters to Daddy Long-Legs that she thought she was a Communist. It all just came back to me somehow, I'm not even sure why. But I'm definitely buying the English version sometime soon. :)It's really cute and probably a rather a girlish book - it's an epistolary novel about a girl named Jerusha Abott (nicknamed Judy) who is taken out of an orphanage and sent to college by one of the orphanage's trustees because she is really talented at writing and he wants to offer her the chance of getting a good education, despite the fact that she's really poor and has been brought up in an orphanage. The only thing she has to do in return is to send him a monthly letter. She's not even supposed to know who he is (he never answers her letters, either), so she decides to call him "Daddy Long-Legs" because the only time she actually saw him was from far away and she only saw his back and his shadow (which had those long legs, hence the nickname).I just loved discovering the world through Judy's eyes and I think this is well worth a read.


** spoiler alert ** A fun listen on-CD. Very Anne-of-Green-Gablesish. I liked Judy's accounts of college life and discovering herself as a human being for the first time, rather than a chamber maid. It was a tad predictable, I thought, but still at the end I found myself wondering "Is it going to turn out like it's supposed to?"Now I just need to check out the movie with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron; I saw it in high school and seem to only remember that maybe it had an overly-slow dream sequence with dancing? Has anyone seen this? Is it worth watching and is it anything like the book? I don't remember. Carrie, Charnae?

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