Hamish Hamilton to publish 'lost nature classic'

Hamish Hamilton to publish 'lost nature classic'

Hamish Hamilton will publish “a lost classic of children's nature writing”, The House Without Windows, from 1927, to be introduced and illustrated by Jackie Morris (pictured).  

The House Without Windows was a bestseller when it was first published in 1927 by Penguin in the UK and Knopf in the US. Its author, American child prodigy Barbara Newhall Follett, was 12-years-old at the time of publication. “Thirteen years later the author would disappear, never to be seen again," Hamish Hamilton said. "Despite being lost for many years, The House Without Windows still speaks powerfully to our modern world – both to the environmental activism led by 21st children and to a message of empowerment for women and girls.”

The editors are Simon Prosser and Hermione Thompson at Hamish Hamilton, who bought world rights in the introduction and illustrations from Jessica Woollard at David Higham Associates, while the main text is in the public domain in the UK.

The Penguin Random House imprint will publish the book as a hardback editions on 3rd October 2019, with a new introduction and beautiful, ink illustrations from Morris, the co-creator of publishing sensation The Lost Words (Hamish Hamilton). 

The publisher described The House Without Windows as “a lost classic of children's nature writing”. It said: “It tells the story of a young girl who doesn't want to live in a house with doors and windows and a roof, so she runs away to live in the wild - first in the Meadow, then by the Sea, and finally in the Mountain. Her heartbroken parents follow her, bringing her back home to 'safety' and locking her up in the stifling square of the house. But she slips away once more, following her heart into the richness of untrammelled nature and disappearing forever.”

Morris said: “Lost for so many years, known only to a handful of people, Barbara Newhall Follett’s story fascinates all who are lucky enough to come across it. Written by a child almost a century ago, there has never been a better time for The House Without Windows to be brought back into the light. It is a utopian dream sequence: in this book, nature isn’t a backdrop against which a tale is set, it’s the central stage and character. Barbara was nine years old when she started writing this astonishing novel – which became a feminist classic and a celebration of all that is wild and free.”

Newhall Follett was born in 1914. One year after she published The House Without Windows, she published another, The Voyage of the Norman D, based on her own experiences sailing round Nova Scotia without her parents at 13-years-old. Newhall Follett walked out of her home with $30 in her pocket one evening shortly before Christmas 1939 and was never seen again. The mystery of her disappearance has never been solved.

Morris grew up in the Vale of Evesham, and has created more than 40 children's books. She is now based in Pembrokeshire.