Daddy-Long-Legs | Sunday Observer


Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster is a novel in epistolary form. It charts the life of an orphaned girl named Jerusha Abbott who grew up in an orphanage called the John Grier Home. When Jerusha is 18, one of the trustees of the orphanage offers to pay for her university education. The trustee is impressed by Jerusha’s writing skills after reading an impertinent but humorous essay she had written. However, Jerusha does not know the name of her benefactor because he wants to remain unknown. But he wants Jerusha to write to him once a month informing him of her progress at university, and address the letter to John Smith sent in care of his secretary. But Jerusha does not like the name John Smith because it lacks personality, and she decides to call him Daddy-Long-Legs because she had a fleeting glimpse of his shadow as he was leaving the orphanage which revealed that he was tall.

Jerusha hates her name and calls herself Judy in the letters to Daddy-Long-Legs. She tells him everything in the letters and she grows to love him. As time goes by, Jerusha meets and falls in love with another older man named Jervis Pendleton who is the uncle of her batch mate Julia Pendleton. Jerusha tells Daddy-Long-Legs about Jervis, and she also tells him that Jervis reminds her a little of him, because she feels she knows him intimately even though she has never met him. Jerusha refuses Jervis’s marriage proposal because she also has feelings for Daddy-Long-Legs, and she is confused by her feelings for both men. Daddy-Long-Legs's identity is revealed at the end of the novel.