The story follows the protagonist, a young girl named Jerusha Judy Abbott, through her college years. She writes the letters to her benefactor, a rich man whom she has never seen. Jerusha Abbott was brought up at the John Grier Home, an old-fashioned orphanage. The children were wholly dependent on charity and had to wear other people's cast-off clothes. Jerusha's unusual first name was selected by the matron off a gravestone, while her surname was selected out of the phone book. At the age of 15, she finished her education and is at loose ends, still working in the dormitories at the institution where she was brought up. One day, after the asylum's trustees have made their monthly visit, Judy is informed by the asylum's dour matron that one of the trustees has offered to pay her way through college. He has spoken to her former teachers and thinks she has potential to become an excellent writer. He will pay her tuition and also give her a generous monthly allowance. Judy must write him a monthly letter, because he believes that letter-writing is important to the development of a writer. However, she will never know his identity; she must address the letters to Mr. John Smith, and he will never reply. The book chronicles Jerusha's educational, personal, and social growth. One of the first things she does at college is to change her name to Judy. She designs a rigorous reading program for herself and struggles to gain the basic cultural knowledge to which she, growing up in the bleak environment of the orphan asylum, was never exposed. At the end of the book, the identity of Daddy-Long-Legs is revealed as 'Master Jervie', whom she had met and fallen in love with while she was still unaware that he was Daddy-Long-Legs.
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A lifelong favorite!
I first read this book as a preteen in the 1960s. I was immediately taken with the feisty, spunky heroine and have re-read the book almost every year since (I know it so well it only takes about 2 hours to read!) The story has been revived as a play off-Broadway and will be touring the country this spring. To the company who posted this app: WHY did you spoil the story for any prospective reader by telling about the twist at the end? Either your reviewer didn't read it, or if they did, they have no soul! PLEASE remove the last few sentences and allow readers to enjoy the story as it was meant to be enjoyed!