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


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.


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.


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.

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.


If I were in high school, I would have given this five stars, although I'm not sure if I would have liked it as much if I had not seen the musical last year. It is a story creatively told entirely from the letters of one girl to "Daddy Long Legs". By the end of the book, I was completely enthralled with Judy Abbott as I was with Anne Shirley and Laura Ingalls.


Pleasantly surprised by this book. I was always weirded out by the fact that an orphan girl who is 'adopted' by an older gentleman falls in love with him. Maybe it's because my only association with this book is the musical with Fred Astaire with his ever receding hair line. Not that I don't like Fred Astaire, but he's old, old. Anyway, was not at all bored by the fact that the whole story was told through letters, and found myself really liking the heroine.

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.

Monica Jalil

my mother recomended daddy long legs because she told me that she read it when she was my age and it ias one of her favorite books. she said that she really enjoyed it and that it was about this girl that was 17 years old, she lived with other orphans, but suddendly, a stranger pays her college. and she has never seen him before but she calls him daddy long legs.


Wonderful! I loved it. It's such a 1920's Fairy Tale - rags-to-riches in the best way possible. Very entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny at points. At least for me. It was humorous without being lewd, romantic without the mush, and entertaining w/out going overboard. You could relate to the characters throughout and it was incredibly descriptive. I loved the little drawings, very modern.


This book deserves five stars, but I gave it three.I loved reading this story; it really doesn't sound like a fairytale at first, but once I got into it I could see the magic building. And I love the happy ending, however brief it was.There are only a few things I didn't like about this book. The part that bothered me most was that Jerusha wrote 100% of the letters in the book. It's not that annoying, but it felt a lot like a one-sided conversation, especially towards the end. (Jerusha even noticed it too; she mentioned it several times to "Daddy Long-Legs".) I was hoping that the author would slip in a climactic note from the mysterious man, perhaps stating his love for Jerusha - or something. But that never happened.The end was also (as I mentioned) very brief. Jerusha wrote hundreds of letters about herself, but all we got was one meager scene about her relationship with her new-found lover. I had expected at least a few more letters about their romance.The final thing that irked me, right from the beginning, was how the author put God and religion in a bad light. I mean, I know that it's good to show that Jerusha has spirit and independence, but I wasn't sure I liked how she accomplished this.Nevertheless... this was an enjoyable read. Not the best, but not the worst either. I would give it a five, except that I detested what I have mentioned above.


This book made me want to live in the early 1900 and be packing my bags for college. I enjoyed watching Jerusha grow from a naive girl into a confident and independent young woman. It was very interesting how the author showed her grow intellectually throughout her four years of college. The one thing that this book really made me think about is am I grateful for my blessings. I kept asking myself: Do people need to have such great hardships to be truly grateful for all God has given us? Jerusha was grateful for her blessings because she knew what it was like to not have. Then you have to think about Daddy-Long-Legs, he must have been grateful for his blessing and was willing to share with the less fortunate. So maybe we don't always have to have hardships to be thankful for all that has been given us. Jerusha was happy and enthusiastic about life and worked very hard to succeed. I also thought about the fact that she wanted to pay back her guardian. How many people would pay back something if it wasn't required of them? Especially the cost of a college education.

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.


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.


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.

Avid Reader

There's something about an epistolary novel. I think I'd have been nine or ten the first time I read this book. I know I got it from the library, and read it in one night. Thirty years later, this was another one-night book. Charming, and sweet, it's as good as I remember.This is a fairy tale, an orphan made good story. She gets her education and her man. What's not to love?There's some proto feminism in here too. I loved this thought, tucked away in Judy's description of college learning:Don't you think I'd make an admirable voter if I had my rights? I was twenty-one last week. This is an awfully wasteful country to throw away such an honest, educated, conscientious, intelligent citizen as I would be. First line: The first Wednesday in every month was a Perfectly Awful Day - a day to be awaited with dread, endured with courage and forgotten with haste.Last line:This is the first love letter I ever wrote. Isn't it funny that I know how?

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