Jul 14 2013

Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster (1912)

No, this is not about Daddy-longlegs (Opiliones) or Daddy-longlegs spiders (Pholcidae), but “Daddy Long Legs” is a charming love story published by Jean Webster in 1912! The following contains spoilers, so if you haven’t read the book yet, please feel free to skip this.

It’s well known that the author of Candy Candy, Kyoko Mizuki, had been inspired by this story. Therefore, there are parallels between these two stories, and I would like to highlight some below.

Here I give you a brief summary first:

In the beginning of the book, we met a 17-year-old orphan girl, called Jerusha (she later called herself Judy) Abbott, who lived in an orphanage called John Grier Home. One of the trustees of the orphanage saw her potential in becoming an excellent writer, so not only he would pay her tuition for college, he would also give her a generous monthly allowance. The only requirement from him was that Judy must write him a monthly letter to let him know of her progress through college. His main reason was that writing letters was important for her development to be a writer.

Yet the strange thing was that he insisted on being anonymous. She was to address him as John Smith, and she should not expect any direct reply from him (he replied through his secretary). However, Jerusha (Judy) did catch a glimpse of the shadow of her benefactor and found that he was a tall, long-legged man. For this reason, she adoringly addressed him as ‘Daddy-Long-Legs’. She later attended a “girls’ college” on the East Coast and illustrated her letters with childlike line drawings, also created by Jean Webster.

Near the end of the book, Master Jervie proposed to Judy, but she turned him down because he was a wealthy man. Yet, she was upset and even told her ‘Daddy-Long-Legs’ in her letter about her feelings for her friend, Jervie. After that, she finally got to meet her benefactor, who was no other man than Master Jervie himself.

You might have seen the parallels already by now, and here are some of my interpretations:

  • Candy was also an orphan, and being cheerful and optimistic, she delighted in many little things in her ordinary life just like Judy
  • Candy was adopted by a mysterious man known as Uncle William, who was very generous to her and sent her to study in a prestigious school in London
  • Candy wrote letters to Uncle William without getting any reply, and he only contacted her through his personal assistant George
  • Candy wrote honestly in her letters and sometimes even drew pictures
  • Like Judy, Candy complained that she had never met her benefactor
  • Judy had a very good friend called Sallie McBride. Likewise, Candy had two girlfriends called Patty and Annie.
  • Sallie’s brother, Jimmy McBride, was a handsome young man. Being highly popular in Princeton University, he was actually very fond of Judy. Reminding you of someone in Candy Candy?
  • Judy met Master Jervie (Jervis Pendleton), a young uncle of her rich classmate, Julia Pendleton. Despite the fact that Master Jervie was around 14 years older than Judy, they got along so well that they gradually became good friends and often spent time together doing lots of things. They truly treasured each other’s company.
  • Master Jervie was considered strange by his wealthy relatives because he cared about the unfortunate. Also, like Albert in Candy Candy, Jervie enjoyed nature.
  • Candy wanted to find her own path and left the school in London. Similarly, when ‘Daddy-Long-legs’ wanted to send Judy to Europe, she refused to go. It showed her wish to be independent, and her benefactor accepted that he couldn’t control her.
  • When Judy realized that the man she had fallen in love with was actually her ‘Daddy-Long-Legs’, she was shocked initially but happy afterwards. Prior to this encounter, in her mind, her Daddy had been an old, tall, (and bald) man.
  • The ending of the story is an abrupt one, and the readers were left hanging without knowing if Judy married Jervie at the end.

Fortunately, there is a sequel to this book called “Dear Enemy”, also written by Jean Webster, in which it mentioned that Judy Abbott got married soon after completing college. The book also talked about her remarkably successful marriage with Jervie.

You might ask if Candy had fallen in love with Albert or vice versa before she discovered his true identity. I think Candy had although she might not have realized it, and you can read my point of view in my earlier posts (four parts altogether) regarding the Rockstown incident. This is the link to Part 1:


To me, Albert had “proposed” too. Please refer to my previous post about the possible meaning behind sharing a sandwich


Also, for your interest, I found a good post by Skies O’Blue, and you can read her book review in



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    • Nathanalie on July 18, 2013 at 8:47 pm
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    Hi, I’ve read both the novel and watched the anime for daddy long legs. But still I prefer candy candy more. For the anime, both the drawings and music are way better in CC. I cried almost every time I watched the show and not when I watched DDLL. As for the story, I also prefer CC though its a bit dramatic 🙂

    1. Hello Nathanalie!! I have only read the book but like you I found the Candy Candy story more entertaining. Still DLL is very sweet and inspired many people! ^_^

    • Candyfan on July 16, 2013 at 11:51 am
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    Is the novel better than Candy Candy manga? Just curious…

    1. I won’t say that. Why?

        • Candyfan on July 16, 2013 at 1:41 pm
        • Reply

        The story about Daddy Long Legs intrigues me and I might get a copy and read it.

        1. Good 😀

    • Guest on July 15, 2013 at 9:15 pm
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    Jervie and Judy are 14 years apart? Are you serious? My niece and I are 14 years apart, and I can’t imagine myself falling in love with a girl that young, but hey, age doesn’t matter, right?

    1. I think the age gap between Jo March and her husband the Professor (in Little Women) is even larger! Please correct me if I’m wrong. 😉

        • Albertfanatix on July 16, 2013 at 12:21 am
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        Agree, Ms Puddle. I think Prof. Bhaer’s about 20-25 years older than Jo. That proves Albert is really not that old for Candy, lol, but their pure hearts are what matters to me.

        I’ve heard about this Daddy Long Legs anime and I will add that up into my to-do list. Thank you for this good topic.

        1. You’re welcome! 🙂

    • Guest on July 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm
    • Reply

    This is very interesting comparison

    1. Thank you! 😀

    • MN027 on July 14, 2013 at 11:14 pm
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    Funny that you mentioned the fans were left hanging by the author whether Jarvis married Judy or not, but in anime it was shown they were married. I like this kind analysis you came up with as we can see they have many similarities as our favorite couple, Candy and Albert. Unfortunately, there is no Candy-Albert marriage occurred in anime version just like Jarvis and Judy did. Do you have any answers why Mizuki didn’t allow that to happen since that book was the reason that aspired her to write Candy Candy and Albert?

    1. I haven’t watched the DLL anime. I wonder if Mizuki had much influence over the production of the anime adaptation, and in the CC manga the ending is open too. 😉

  1. […] a well known fact that the author of Candy Candy, Mizuki, was inspired by the famous story “Daddy Long Legs”. In addition, as discussed in my other post, Age difference between Candy and Albert, Albert was […]

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