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Children's Fiction

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Understood Betsy

Dorothy Canfield Fisher


Understood Betsy is a novel for children written by American writer and activist, Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1879-1958). It was first published in 1916.

Understood Betsy tells the story of 9-year-old orphan, Elizabeth Ann—Betsy—who lives first with her father’s aunt Harriet and cousin Frances in the city. She later moves to live a farm with her mother’s family, the Putneys.

The child is clearly loved in both households but the parenting practices are markedly different. With aunt Harriet and cousin Frances is mollycoddled, whereas with the Putney’s Betsy is expected to walk to school and contribute to the household chores.

When cousin Frances comes to collect Betsy, she is surprised to find Betsy thriving at the farm and wanting to stay there.

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