Pollyanna Grows Up

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Pollyanna Grows Up
Author(s) Eleanor H. Porter
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Children's literature
Publisher The Page Company
Publication year 1915
Pages 308
Preceded by Pollyanna

Pollyanna Grows Up, subtitled The Second Glad Book, is a 1915 novel by Eleanor H. Porter. A continuation of Porter's 1913 bestseller Pollyanna, Pollyanna Grows Up enjoyed strong sales, totaling about one million by the close of the 20th century.[1] Following Porter's 1920 death a number of sequels, labeled "Glad Books" by the publisher, were published mainly from the 1920s through the late 1940s.

In November 1914, two years after Pollyanna had begun serialization in Christian Herald magazine, an advertisement announced the return of Pollyanna in a new book,[2] and in January 1915 publication was slated for April, with the title not definitely selected until later.[3]

Unlike the first novel, Pollyanna Grows Up has never been made into a motion picture. However, the 1986 anime The Story of Pollyanna, Girl of Love, an installment of Nippon Animation's World Masterpiece Theater, spans both of Porter's books. The second half of the series covers the events of Pollyanna Grows Up, albeit less faithfully than it does the first novel.


The story begins shortly after Pollyanna Whittier's return to Beldingsville, Vermont. Though Pollyanna has fully recovered from her crippling spinal injury, Miss Della Wetherby, who came to know her during her last month at the Sanatorium where she healed, hopes to marshall Pollyanna's infectious gladness to hep her sullen sister, Mrs. Ruth Carew. Originally, the three Wetherby sisters, children of a Boston Brahmin clan of ancient provenance and immense wealth. Doris married John Kent, a well-bred but eccentric man, against her family's wishes, resulting in the birth of a son, James "Jamie" Kent. Doris died when Jamie was four, and John Kent ran off with the child. Old Mr. and Mrs. Wetherby died soon after, in shock. Ruth had been married, but both her older husband and infant child passed away within a year, intensifying Ruth's obsession with finding Jamie. Despite a worldwide search effort and several false leads, Jamie was never found, and Ruth, a shel of her former self, is deeply depressed when Della thinks to invite Pollyanna over to lift her spirits.

Securing Mrs. Carew's begrudging approval, Della writes to Dr. and Mrs. Chilton, the uncle and aunt caring for Pollyanna, pleading them to allow Pollyanna to spend the winter in Mrs. Carew's Boston home, and they agree, finalizing plans to travel in Germany in the meantime. Pollyanna is ecstatic about the plans, but her Beldingsville friends, especially Jimmy Pendleton, are saddened that she is leaving again so soon.

Arriving in Boston, Pollyanna is enchanted with the Mrs. Carew's motorcar, Commonwealth Avenue home, and fine clothes and jewels. Despite not being informed about the purpose of her visit, Pollyanna insists Mrs. Carew open all the windows in her house, put on fine jewels not worn in many years, and attend service with her at her prestigious church,[4] to which she had given impressive sums over the years but almost never went to. Mrs. Carew remains depressed, however, and Pollyanna cannot console her about Jamie.

Not accustomed to the dangers in a large city, Pollyanna takes a walk to explore the city by herself. While most ignore her, she brightens the days of a handful of those who speak with her, meeting a young retail clerk named Sadie Dean in the Public Garden, and espying a boy in a wheelchair absorbed in reading. Wandering all the way to the North End, largely peopled by Italian immigrants unable to understand English, she gets lost, but receives help from a paperboy named Jerry, who guides her back to Mrs. Carew's around dusk. Upset with Pollyanna's behavior, Mrs. Carew forbids her from venturing further than the Public Garden in the future, and from speaking to strangers.

H. Weston Taylor illustration of Pollyanna and Jamie from the 1915 Page Company edition.

A few days later, she finds Jerry tending to the boy in the wheelchair, who is introduced as Jamie, or "Sir James, Lord of Murphy's Alley" for his infatuation with Arthurian legends. Besides being an avid reader, Jamie also gives up almost all of his lunch for the park's squirrels, whom he has named after the Knights of the Round Table, and despite being an incurable cripple he keeps a "Jolly Book" where he records his joys much as Pollyanna tracks hers in the Glad Game. Pollyanna learns that he is an orphan ignorant of his surname, and grows convinced that he is Mrs. Carew's Jamie. Eventually she tells Mrs. Carew about him, and escorted by Jerry, who informs them Jamie is sick, they drive to Murphy's Alley. Climbing to the top floor apartment of Jamie's foster mother in a rickety tenement house, they see Jamie ill in bed. He is heartened by their efforts, but Mrs. Carew cannot find conclusive evidence of his identity. Still, she invites Jamie to live with her, but he astounds everyone by refusing because he knows Mrs. Carew isn't doesn't really love him apart from her Jamie. Shocked by the dilapidated housing, Mrs. Carew asks who the landlord is, and is ashamed to learn it is herself.

Afterward, she becomes personally involved with charitable causes aimed at preventing children from the need to be socially "rescued" later. Sadie Dean is one of the first girls touched by the efforts, and soon becomes a leading organizer of the charities. Later Jamie accepts Mrs. Carew's renewed offer of caring for him, and Pollyanna leaves at winter's end, with Jamie Kent not found, but Mrs. Carew renewed and living life with meaning.

Once more, Pollyanna's return to Beldingsville is short-lived, and in no time she embarked for Europe, where she spent six years wintering in Germany and travelling the Continent with Dr. and Mrs. Chilton, save for four weeks of summer in Beldingsville when she was sixteen. During their travels Dr. Chilton died suddenly, and six months later Mrs. Chilton returned to Beldingsville in financial distress, and in much the same bitter spirits she had before meeting Pollyanna. Pollyanna herself continues to play the Glad Game, but has matured and grown to understand the tenacity with which some people reject gladness. However, she proposes inviting Mrs. Carew, Jamie, and Sadie Dean to Beldingsville as paying guests for the summer. Despite Mrs. Chilton's scepticism of the plan, they duly arrive and good times are enjoyed by all. Jimmy Pendleton reconnects with Pollyanna, but is apprehensive that she may have changed from the Pollyanna he knew. A camping trip suggested by Mr. John Pendleton begins well enough, but on the last day Pollyanna is nearly trampled by a bull. Jimmy barely saves her while Jamie, who has improved enough to walk on crutches, can do nothing and curses himself for it. Soon afterward the guests return to Boston, relationships still strained.

Around this time Jimmy Pendleton awakens to his love for Pollyanna, but misunderstands her and Jamie to love one another and refrains from making a move before his physically disadvantaged perceived rival. Longing to be an architectural engineer, he takes up studies at MIT and also leaves for the Boston area, rarely writing Pollyanna. She, meanwhile, enters a story in a contest with a top prize of $3,000 to earn more for the household, and has developed her own misconception, thinking Jimmy loves Mrs. Carew.

While Pollyanna is an amateur with no practice, Jamie has also entered the literary contest, and takes first place, with a book deal following immediately. He learns of and corrects Jimmy's misunderstanding, but Mrs. Carew is present, and convinces Jimmy of her own belief that Mr. Pendleton and Pollyanna care for each other. He rushes to Pollyanna's side and confesses his love, but she withholds until she can learn from Mr. Pendleton if he cares for her. He disabuses her of the notion, but Mrs. Chilton objects to a marriage on the grounds of Jimmy's uncertain family, warning her of the "possible evils of heredity". This infuriates Jimmy and his adoptive father, and they decide to open "the packet", an envelope Jimmy's father had given him with instructions to open only after his thirtieth birthday or upon his death. Stupendously, the papers within confirm Jimmy to be James Kent.

Jimmy and Mr. Pendleton rush to Boston to share the discovery with Mrs. Carew and Della Wetherby, but opt to refrain from telling Jamie, at least for the time. They learn Pollyanna is in town visiting Mrs. Carew, and when she returns to the Mrs. Carew's the book ends with three betrothals: Pollyanna Whittier and Jimmy Pendleton, Jamie and Sadie Dean, and Mr. Pendleton and Mrs. Carew.


  1. My-Van Nguyen. Pollyanna Grows Up: 20th-Century American Bestsellers Accessed December 19, 2013.
  2. Kate Cooke. Pollyanna: 20th-Century American Bestsellers Accessed December 19, 2013.
  3. "Pollyanna Grows Up: 20th-Century American Bestsellers."
  4. In Story of Pollyanna, Girl of Love episode 34, the church shown is modeled after First Church in Boston, a Unitarian church.

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