Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House needs your help!

Just yesterday I received this letter from Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House regarding their annual appeal. I present this letter to you. Please consider giving what you can to help preserve Orchard House from damage this winter:

Dear Friend:

Perhaps you’ve heard our recent great news: The “Kickstarter” campaign to fund the first-ever documentary about the amazing history and significance of Orchard House was a success! To all those who spread the word and pledged support, I send sincere thanks on behalf of everyone affiliated with Orchard House.

Unfortunately, the very next day we received bad news: Orchard House has major roof problems with costly structural implications, issues which must be addressed quickly because of leakage. With winter about to set in, we simply can’t afford to wait. As this letter goes to press, we are in the midst of acquiring bids — and working to finance these repairs.

orchard house in winter

So goes life! Something wonderful; something challenging! Every day at Orchard House, we strive to …

do something splendid … something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten

(to quote Jo March in Little Women). But we are continually aware that we do so only because of the devoted support of people like you. As you give us strength to persevere through our trials, you also champion our achievements in education, preservation, research, and tourism, and for that we are again very grateful.

In order to continue our (hopefully) “splendid, heroic, wonderful” work, however, our Annual Appeal must raise at least one-third of our operating budget — in this case, $240,000. Otherwise, we risk losing our ability to not only preserve the House in its time of need, but also maintain the high-caliber staffing needed to conduct our award-winning guided tours and educational programming.

There are so many worthy causes to support, especially at this time of year; so many pulls on your purse strings. Please don’t let Orchard House be forgotten in your charitable giving. In the past, extremely generous supporters like you have helped us meet or exceed our Annual Appeal goals. I ask you now to please consider giving as much as you can.

Author John MattesonProf. John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, recently wrote:

Orchard House is more than boards and nails; it has a soul that evokes love and family. It redeems us. It welcomes, inspires, and reminds callers from the next town over and pilgrims from across the globe of the goodness and grace of our past, and points us toward a kinder future. Orchard House is precisely what we need.

What we need is your help to ensure that a place so embraced by splendor, heroism, and wonder continues to exist for many years and many generations to come!

If you have donated to us in the past, please continue to do so at or above the level of your last gift. If you donated to our Kickstarter campaign, please know that those funds are only available specifically for the documentary project; we cannot use them for vital operating expenses or preservation, so your Annual Appeal gift is vital. And if you have never donated to us before, know that by doing so, you become an important partner with a site that symbolizes the American family — and you become part of our family, too.

With deep gratitude and bright hope,

jan turnquist signature



Jan Turnquist, Executive Director
Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House

annual appealAll donations received by January 31, 2015 will still count toward the 2014 Appeal.

You can give by downloading the annual appeal card, and mail it with your donation to:

The Annual Appeal for Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House
P.O. Box 343
Concord, MA 0142-0343

Or, you can donate online at http://louisamayalcott.org/contribute.html

Let’s help Orchard House make its goal of $240,000 by January 31, 2015!

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Review and recipe: A Little Women Christmas by Heather Vogel Frederick and Bagram Ibatoulline


I love this review! I have this book, it’s gorgeous and after reading this review, I hope you will run right out and get it for your favorite little daughter, niece or friend.

Originally posted on Jama's Alphabet Soup:

Most of us remember when we first read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and how it profoundly changed and affected us. It’s just that kind of book.

I was in sixth grade and read it for Mrs. Whang’s English class. We were all a little afraid of Mrs. Whang — she was notorious for being unfailingly strict and rarely smiled. No matter the assignment, only the best would do. For Little Women, we were divided into groups of four and asked to act out our favorite scene(s).

We decided on the first chapter and I was to play Jo. We dressed up in long skirts and shawls and I remember bounding onto the “stage” in my best tomboy fashion and blurting out, “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.” So began a lifelong love for all of Alcott’s books and a fierce yearning for the quintessential New England Christmas —…

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Update on Wayside/Little Women artist depiction by Joyce Pyka

Joyce Pyka, the artist depicting The Wayside in the context of Little Women (see previous post), has posted an update for her painting — check out the interesting new details she has added:

detail laurie


Here is the painting with these sketches:

painting as of dec 2014

Check out her website for all the details.

See(k)ing Little Women


clarkI hope to be receiving a copy of this book from the publisher in the next few weeks and I’m really looking forward to the read! In the meantime, here are some thoughts from the author, Beverly Clark.


Originally posted on Johns Hopkins University Press Blog:

Guest post by Beverly Lyon Clark

When I detoured from another project to work on The Afterlife of “Little Women”I didn’t realize how long it would take—or how much fun I’d have. (Thank you, Louisa May Alcott—and happy almost-birthday!)

It’s been a treasure hunt, first of all. Consider the lost 1919 film version of the novel. No, I didn’t find a copy in some musty vault. But the film had left a paper trail in scores of newspapers and magazines. Not to mention the lobby cards advertised on eBay and the photograph in the archives of the Academy of Motion Pictures. My favorite newspaper notice focused on the love triangle between Jo March, her neighbor Laurie, and Professor Bhaer—who comes upon Jo “in the arms of another” but “wasn’t a quitter,” thanks to his “collegiate experience” . . . Doesn’t exactly sound like Alcott’s novel. Whether or not…

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An exciting first! The announcement of a novel about May Alcott by Jeannine Atkins


This is big news – the first of its kind – a novel about May Alcott! And from one of our readers, Jeannine Atkins, author of several books including her most recent, Views from a Window Seat and Becoming Little Women (see previous post). Congratulations, Jeannine, we can hardly wait!

jeannine atkins books

Originally posted on Views from a Window Seat:

I’m in full dream-come-true mode as I announce that LITTLE WOMAN IN BLUE: A NOVEL OF MAY ALCOTT will be published by She Writes Press in fall 2015.

My fascination with the youngest Alcott sister began when I was a girl playing Little Women with two friends and my older sister, who claimed the role of Jo March. I also wanted to get my hands ink-stained and eat apples in a garret, but I didn’t see what was so wrong with liking clothes or handsome boys, too. As years passed and I learned about point of view, I wondered how much the portrait of May changed to Amy in Little Women was developed from the lens of an older sister, who might have been jealous of an independent girl who didn’t feel as strong a need to please their parents.

The many writers of nineteenth century Concord gave me plenty…

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Wayside, and Thoreau, as you’ve never seen them before; and some news

I came across two fascinating blog posts today that shed a new light on cherished Alcott/Concord lore.

Walden's Shore Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century ScienceThoreau and rocks

First of all, the Thoreau Society is running an interview with author Robert M. Thorson where he reveals something entire new about Thoreau.. It was discovered during his research for his book, Walden’s Shore: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Science about Thoreau, the self-taught physical scientist.


Robert M. Thorson

Check out his discovery here.

Wayside or Orchard House?

Little Women‘s numerous readers know that Orchard House is the physical setting for the story of the March sisters. But do they know that next-door Wayside is where the action actually took place? (I know you do!)

Artist Joyce Pyka has been painting a folk art version of The Wayside, visualizing it as the home of the March sisters. She has a delightful blog post showing the progress of her work plus drawings of each sister. Remarking on Louisa May Alcott’s  extensive knowledgeable about flowers, she discusses those preferred by each sister and depicts them in the painting.

Here is how the painting appears so far:

Be sure and visit her blogpost to see a larger version of the painting and read about her progress. The drawings of the sisters are adorable!

Prints will be available when the painting is completed. It will be made available at http://pyka-joyce.artistwebsites.com/galleries.html  under her Folk Art Gallery.

News and Upcoming Posts

I am thisclose to finishing my first book and will be submitting it to the publisher around December 1. I will finally have some free time! I thank you for your patience with the scarcity of posts.

rose in bloomI wanted to announce that I am currently reading Rose in Bloom, have written my first post, and will begin posting as I get further into the book. I want to makes sure I post on a regular basis on this book since in the past I haven’t always been so faithful. I am very much enjoying Rose in Bloom so far and look forward to discussing it with you all.


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Louisa May Alcott Society call for papers for 2015 ALA conference in Boston

American Literature Association 26th Annual Conference Boston May 21-24, 2015

Louisa May Alcott Society (Contact Christine Doyle)
contact email: 

“Transatlantic Alcott”

little women abroad2Louisa May Alcott’s status as a quintessentially American writer notwithstanding, literature and life on the other side of “the pond” interested her immensely. Her favorite writers included Dickens, Bronte, Goethe, Schiller, de Stael; admiration for their work surely added fuel to her own “burning” genius. New Englander though she was, she took not one but two European tours, producing sketches as well as fiction in response to the experiences.

Even in the most American of her novels, Little Women, several chapters take place in Europe, where Amy and Laurie visit many places Louisa experienced on her first European tour in 1865-66.

  • What does Alcott’s writing show about her reading of Europe and European writers? In what ways does she embrace them? Reject them? Re-shape them to her particular artistic temperament and to the American experience?
  • How does she make use of the personal experiences garnered in her travels in Europe, in her non-fiction sketches such as Shawl Straps, and in her fiction (The Inheritance, A Long Fatal Love Chase, the thrillers generally) as well?
  • How might themes in her work be considered to be in dialogue with English and European writers, or with other American writers (Hawthorne, Twain, James) who were looking transatlantically themselves?

One hundred fifty years after Louisa May Alcott (like Amy) first “sailed away to find the old world,” can we consider her Americanness in a broader, more international context?

Send one-page abstracts (approx 300 words) by January 19, 2015, to Christine Doyle (doylec@ccsu.edu).

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