Jean Webster (1876-1916) was the pen name of Alice Jane Chandler Webster, who was born and lived most of her life in New York State. Writing was probably in her blood, as her great-uncle was Mark Twain. She was a dreadful speller at school and when a teacher asked her on whose authority she spelled words as she did, she replied, "Webster's"—a pun on her own name and that of the great American writer of the dictionary.
Jean had a privileged upbringing and graduated in 1901 from Vassar, a top American college. During her many charity visits to the poor, she became convinced that less well-off children could do well in life. Daddy-Long-Legs, her most famous book, develops this belief with humor and imagination. In the novel a young orphan is sent to college by a kind, anonymous benefactor, nicknamed 'Daddy Long-Legs', and her letters to him paint a moving picture of orphanage life and a portrait of a young lady's mind.
Jean married in 1915 and divided her time between a New York City apartment overlooking Central Park and an estate in the Berkshire Hills. Sadly, she died the following year, the day after her baby daughter was born.
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