Webster, Jean "Daddy Longlegs" - 1912
A favourite classic book for everyone who was lucky enough to read it at the time. I must have read this first in German because I remember reading it at a time where it was impossible to get any books in English - apart from a few classics we had to read in school.
I loved the book from the beginning and have read it again and again. A wonderful story about an orphan who gets the chance to get a higher education because a rich man is willing to pay for it. His only condition is that she writes a letter to him about her life once a month.
And so we are able to read a beautiful epistolary novel with lots of wonderful letters from Judy to her benefactor about the life of an orphan who goes to school and who grows up. She has never seen this man who pays for everything in her life, only has did she see him disappear and noticed he had very long legs, so in want of his real name, she calls him "Daddy Longlegs" henceforth.
A lovely novel for anyone who likes Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Little Women and similar writings. Also a novel for readers from all ages.
Since the book is more than a hundred years old, it is free on Gutenberg.com. It has also been made into many different movies over the time.
From the back cover:
"Daddy-Long-Legs is a 1912 epistolary novel by the American writer Jean Webster. It follows the protagonist, a young girl named Jerusha "Judy" Abbott, through her college years. She writes the letters to her benefactor, a rich man whom she has never seen.
Jerusha Abbott was brought up at the John Grier Home, an old-fashioned orphanage. The children were wholly dependent on charity and had to wear other people's cast-off clothes. Jerusha's unusual first name was selected by the matron off a gravestone (she hates it and uses "Judy" instead), while her surname was selected out of the phone book. At the age of 15, she finished her education and is at loose ends, still working in the dormitories at the institution where she was brought up.
One day, after the asylum's trustees have made their monthly visit, Judy is informed by the asylum's dour matron that one of the trustees has offered to pay her way through college. He has spoken to her former teachers and thinks she has potential to become an excellent writer. He will pay her tuition and also give her a generous monthly allowance. Judy must write him a monthly letter, because he believes that letter-writing is important to the development of a writer. However, she will never know his identity; she must address the letters to Mr. John Smith, and he will never reply."