Image of Jean Webster


Lifetime: 1876 - 1916 Passed: ≈ 107 years ago


Novelist, Playwright



Jean Webster

Jean Webster, was an American writer and author of many books including Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy. Her best-known books feature lively and likeable young female protagonists who come of age intellectually, morally, and socially, but with enough humor, snappy dialogue, and gently biting social commentary to make her books palatable and enjoyable to contemporary readers.

Jean Webster was active political and socially, and often included issues of socio-political interest in her books.

Alice Jane Chandler Webster was born in Fredonia, New York. She was the eldest child of Annie Moffet Webster and Charles Luther Webster. In 1897, Webster entered Vassar College as a member of the class of 1901. Majoring in English and economics, she took a course in welfare and penal reform and became interested in social issues.

Back in Fredonia, Webster began writing When Patty Went to College, in which she described contemporary women's college life.

Jean Webster began an affair with Ethelyn McKinney's brother, Glenn Ford McKinney. A lawyer, he had struggled to live up to the expectations of his wealthy and successful father. Mirroring a subplot of Dear Enemy, he had an unhappy marriage due to his wife's struggling with mental illness; McKinney's wife, Annette Reynaud, frequently was hospitalized for manic-depressive episodes.

Jean Webster entered the Sloan Hospital for Women, New York on the afternoon of June 10, 1916. Glenn McKinney, recalled from his 25th reunion at Princeton University, arrived 90 minutes before Webster gave birth, at 10:30 p.m., to a six-and-a-quarter-pound daughter. All was well initially, but Jean Webster became ill and died of childbirth fever at 7:30 am on June 11, 1916. Her daughter was named Jean (Little Jean) in her honour.

Books by Jean Webster

Daddy-Long-Legs Cover image


Fiction Novel
Young adult fiction Epistolary

Daddy-Long-Legs is a 1912 epistolary novel by the American writer Jean Webster. It follows the protagonist, Jerusha "Judy" Abbott, as she leaves an orphanage and is sent to college by a benefactor whom she has never seen.

Jerry Cover image


Romance Fiction
Love Historical Fiction

Jerry is the humorous story of a young man's attempt to win his lady. Jerry is waiting for his friends at a hotel in Italy, and is bored and lonely. When he hears that a beautiful American lady, Constance Wilder, is staying nearby, he tries to visit...

Dear Enemy Cover image

Dear Enemy

Fiction Novel
Young adult fiction Epistolary

Dear Enemy is the 1915 sequel to Jean Webster's 1912 novel Daddy-Long-Legs. It was among the top 10 best sellers in the U.S. in 1916. The story is presented in a series of letters written by Sallie McBride, Judy Abbott's classmate and best friend in...