Dear Enemy (Illustrated Edition) (Paperback)
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Jean Webster was the pseudonym of Alice Jane Chandler Webster (1876-1916), an American writer whose best-known books tell the stories of young and likeable female protagonists as they come of age intellectually, morally, and socially, combining humour, witty dialogue, and gently biting social commentary. In 1897 she entered Vassar College where a course in welfare and penal reform led to an interest in social issues that would last throughout her life. Her experiences at Vassar provided material for her first novel When Patty Went to College (1903) in which she described contemporary women's college life. On a trip to Europe Webster befriended fellow American Ethelyn McKinney, and later began an affair with Ethelyn's married brother, Glenn Ford McKinney, who she eventually married after his divorce in 1915. Just Patty, a prequel to her first novel, was published in 1911, after which came her greatest success, Daddy-Long-Legs (1912), an epistolary novel about an orphan, Judy (formerly Jerusha) Abbott, whose attendance at a women's college is funded by an anonymous benefactor. Webster adapted the book into a play which was equally successful. The sequel, Dear Enemy (1915), also proved a bestseller. Again, the story is presented in a series of letters written by Sallie McBride, Judy's classmate and best friend, who is standing in as superintendant at the orphanage where Judy's husband is president. Among the recipients of Sallie's laters are Judy, her husband, Gordon Hallock, a wealthy politician who later becomes Sallie's fiance, and the orphanage doctor who she often refers to as 'Dear Enemy'. The novel charts Sallie's progression from frivolous socialite to the realisation that she has found her true vocation in reforming the orphanage and caring for the orphans' diverse emotional needs. This edition includes the author's own illustrations. Webster died in 1916 after giving birth to her only child, a daughter named Jean in her memory.