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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday, 14 August 2008: Golden Oldies

Individual English tutoring out of office hours means that I get to read novels and plays prescribed by the school curriculum, year in and year out, with my young students. I think I have analysed "Macbeth" more times than the hardiest Shakespearean scholar. Annually my heart warms to Scout's shenanigans in "To kill a mocking bird"and l have read aloud the most harrowing passages from "Lord of the Flies" countless times, usually to groans of "How gross!" coming from my young student.

Jean Webster (1876-1916)

So I was delighted to find that one of my high school students is doing "Daddy-Long-Legs" by Jean Webster, together with her Grade 8 class, as part of their prescribed reading. What an apt choice for an all-girls school right here in Pretoria! I love the story of the feisty and independent Jerusha Abbot singled out by a mysterious, anonymous benefactor to attend an all-girls college and study literature. Remember Jerusha's determination to close the gaps left by her disadvantaged childhood in an orphanage, her amusing correspondence and her romance with the handsome, long-legged Jervis Pendleton, the wealthy uncle of a classmate? She rejects his proposal (even she can't quite imagine bridging the class divide) but then all is revealed. Cinderella discovers her fairy godfather and her lover are one and the same. Such a very satisfying ending! I have never seen any of the many movies based on this film. But I remember my introduction to this story was watching a solo performance of extracts of Jerusha's letters at a school concert when I was very young.

Jean Webster, the grand-niece of Mark Twain, was born in New York. Her father, Charles Webster was a partner with Twain in the Charles Webster Publishing Co. Tragically he committed suicide when Jean was only 15 years old after a severe interpersonal conflict with Twain. Jean entered Vassar College in 1897 where she studied English and Economics and was an ardent suffragette. After graduation she spent her time writing and travelling. Just like Jerusha, Jean fell in love with an older, wealthy man, Glen Ford McKinney; unfortunately in her case he was already married. However, in 1915 Jean married McKinney after his divorce. Less than a year later she died tragically after the birth of a daughter on June 11 1916, apparently of childbirth fever.

What are your favourite golden oldies?

Karen at the lovely Scrapbook of Inspiration awarded me the Brillante Weblog Premio Award 2008 just before I left for overseas. So her it is - proudly if belatedly displayed! The rules of this competition are:
1 You must add the logo to your blog.
2 Add a link to the blog who awarded you the prize.
3 Pass the prize on to another seven blogs.
4 Leave messages on the blogs of your nominees.

For prizewinners I have chosen new blog discoveries:
Thea Quilts
A brush with colour
Pammiejo and friends
The maX files
The pioneer woman
A whimsical Bohemian
The Lavender Loft


KarenHarveyCox said...

Daddy Long Legs was my favorite movie when I was a girl. I can't wait to peek into that award list. Have a wonderful weekend. Karen

Barbara Martin said...

Interesting post about Jean Webster, whom I'd never heard of. Thanks for this information.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Wonderful, interesting post! And I adore your new header featuring your beautiful dogs! Edward does too!

Mary said...

I love the new photo of the cottage and your handsome companions Eleanor - is the new roof completed now?

That's such a sad story about Jean Webster. I vaguely recall seeing the newer version film years ago. Two versions available - original with Mary Pickford (1919) and the newer Fred Astaire/Leslie Caron(1955).

When reading the Netflix review of the original I was surpised to see this note......"Complementing the feature film is D.W. Griffith's 1910 short 'What Daisy Said' about two country girls seduced by a gypsy". My goodness - do I have to protect my grandchildren from possible old fashioned porn here????

Have a fabulous week. School starts back here on Monday - flurries of activity among the masses!! I have a grandson starting graduate school, granddaughter in second year of college, and two granddaughters in Middle School and I wish them all a great year of learning.