An announcement followed by a discovery

As you can see from the teasers I’ve been posting lately, there is a lot coming down the road! Much of it is coming from an announcement I’d like to make.

The announcement

lizzie alcott2Now that the major work for my two books is behind me, I am dedicating my efforts towards my book on Elizabeth Sewall Alcott. It will be an in-depth biography making use of the many letters and journal entries from Lizzie herself and her family members. It will be about her life as well as her death–this shadow sister will finally emerge from the shadows. I am hoping to show the impact of this unassuming and quiet woman’s life on those around her including a brilliant philosopher and teacher, and a world-famous authoress.

Those of you who have been following this blog know of my love for Lizzie Alcott. I want to afford her a voice as there are so many Lizzies among us–women and men who give of themselves behind the scenes and in the end, leave behind wonderful legacies. Judging from the portrayals of Lizzie in the various Alcott biographies, not much is known about her. When I first started doing my research three years ago, I wondered how much I would actually find. It turns out (as with most things) that everything is in plain view if you are focused on looking for it.

This book will take several years to put together (my goal is to have it published by 2018 or 2019). I will be pursuing a traditional publisher but should it not be accepted, I will consider self-publishing. This is the work of my life.

I have to say that I am so grateful for the encouragement and the support I have gotten from so many of you. All writers doubt themselves and your words and kindly gestures have helped more than you can know.

One of you (and you know who you are, thank you!) bequeathed her Beth doll to me for encouragement and she now sits by my computer:

beth doll combined

Now for the discovery

As I continue my research, I will share things along the way that I find. One of the little things I’ve always wanted to read is the King’s Chapel funeral service that Abba insisted be used at Lizzie’s funeral. Eve LaPlante mentioned some of the details in her book, Marmee and Louisa:

marmee and louisaElizabeth Sewall Alcott’s last rites were held the following afternoon at home. Abigail asked Emerson, now in his fifties, Thoreau, not yet forty, and two younger men, John Pratt and the schoolteacher Frank Sanborn, to bear Elizabeth’s coffin from the house to Sleepy Hollow, a new cemetery that the A1cott girls had known as a picnic place. “We longed for dear Uncle Sam” to preside at the funeral, Louisa told a cousin, “but [Samuel Joseph] was too far away,” traveling in Italy, so the Rev. Dr. Huntington of Boston, for whom Abigail had worked, said the service. At her “urgent request” the minister read the simple King’s Chapel burial service that had been said for her three sisters, her brother Edward, her mother and father, and her grandparents. She expected it would be said for her, too. It includes portions of the Gospel of John, the 39th and 90th Psalms, and Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. Louisa, Anna, and Abby May cast handfuls of earth on Lizzie’s coffin as the minister intoned, “For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God to take unto himself the soul of our deceased sister, we therefore commit her body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; looking for the general resurrection in the last day ….” (pages 184-185)

I recently wrote to King’s Chapel and got in touch with one of their historians who sent me the full text of that service:

You can download the service by clicking on the link; you can see the entire third edition at archive.org.

women and health in america-512In my next post I will share some of the background reading I’ve been doing to prepare. Obviously I need to become familiar with health care for women in the nineteenth century and I look forward to sharing with you some of what I have learned from a compilation called Women and Health in America, edited by Judith Walzer Leavitt. I found it all quite compelling and look forward to sharing some thoughts with you.

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Coming attractions for 2016

Teasers for the new year … coming soon. :-)

beth doll combined

Beth doll, bequeathed to me by a special friend for inspiration

 

Beth doll, bequeathed to me by a friend for a special inspiration

My Christmas gift, and a great find.

 

how to study art cheaply3-560

May, the author and cheerleader

Reading this now ... eye-opening!

Reading this now … eye-opening!

Stay tuned!

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Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message on sale through Christmas!

Check out Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message – on sale at 15% off through Christmas!

Available in large print as well as a the regular edition. Use the code ALCOTT during checkout http://www.portalstoprayer.com/alcott/

both sizes-640

A dream book launch–Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message makes its debut at The Barrow Bookstore in Concord

1-outside the barrow-640For an author obsessed with all things Alcott,
does it get any better than this?

Launching a book about the most famous Alcott, Louisa, in The Barrow, a bookstore housed in a building owned by descendants of Anna Alcott Pratt in the heart of Concord, Massachusetts … it’s a dream come true.

A book store that is a treasure trove of books past and present, especially of the beloved authors of Concord.

An intimate setting at dusk with hosts who outdid themselves with their hospitality and with an audience of eager Alcott enthusiasts – what more could you want?

I want to publicly thank Aladdine, Jamie and Nancy for hosting me at their store. Although my presentation lasted just a half hour, the conversation afterward lasted well over an hour. Strangers brought together by their passion, all becoming friends. Even my husband had a good time! ;-)

both sizes-640I read from Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message, sharing passages from Work A Story of Experience, Hospital Sketches and Little Women and their matching bible passages.

I shared how Louisa May Alcott is My Passion came into being and the role my late mother played in the creation of that blog.

It became a wonderful conversation on how the Alcott family has impacted our lives in quite personal ways.

It was my favorite kind of book event–organic.

large_audio-e1280245494342-316x300Here is my presentation:

Thank you to my extended Alcott family!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message comes in two different sizes – click here to order the smaller volume that fits in your purse; click here to order the large type edition.

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Hospitality still reigns at Orchard House (plus a big surprise announcement!)

from lma facebook page

taken from Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House Facebook page

The Christmas season has officially begun at Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House!  “A Country Christmas” begins this weekend, December 5th/6th and continues the following two weekends. Phone 978.369.4118 x106 for reservations.

Last night the staff held an open house for members of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House. This meant we could walk in the front door on our own and be greeted with Christmas carolers decked out in period garb and accompanied by violin and bass mandolin.

orchard house at night

photo by Kristi Martin

The house is decorated with greens, candles on the walkway and a lovely wreath on the door. A tiny Christmas tree decked with handmade ornaments sits in the nursery surrounded by wrapped gifts. A tiny dollhouse decked out with a tree and populated by toy mice sat nearby.

Hot cider, homemade cookies and other treats waited for us in the kitchen along with a surprise–a beautiful gingerbread house rendition of Orchard House complete with glazed windows and flickering lights inside!

gingerbread house

photo by Kristi Martin

The best part? Wandering freely throughout the house, lingering over the displays of rare artifacts, spending as much time as we wished in each room, inspecting every corner. And while wandering, engaging in lively conversation with other Alcott enthusiasts.

I couldn’t resist joining in with the Christmas carolers for a few songs. I made some new friends that night.

Jan Turnquist, dressed as Louisa remarked that this was the essence of the family that occupied Orchard House for twenty years–welcoming guests and friends, filling the house with warmth, laughter and conversation.

Pure magic!

Oh, and now for the surprise!

both sizes-640I found out last night from Jan that the museum store will be carrying my new book, Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message! To say I am excited is an understatement. I am deeply grateful and so pleased that my little book will join the classics of our favorite author plus books by luminaries Madeleine B. Stern, Daniel Shealy, John Matteson and others. A dream come true for this newbie author!!

As you can see from the picture, the book comes in two sizes, one for your pocketbook, and a large print version (which my fading eyesight sure appreciates!).

Treat yourself to “A Country Christmas” at Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House– phone 978.369.4118 x106 for reservations.

And don’t forget to stop by afterwards at 4pm on Sunday at the Barrow for the book launch and signing of Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message and my spiritual memoir, River of Grace.

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Don’t miss the special exhibit of rare artifacts at Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House

On Thursday I toured Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House. I was anxious to see the artifacts pictured in The Annotated Little Women, edited by John Matteson and took a vacation day to see them as November can get swallowed up in holiday preparations.

If you live anywhere near Concord and can get to this exhibit, do so. The artifacts are on display only through the month of November.

from "Recollections of Louisa May Alcott" by Maria S. Porter

from “Recollections of Louisa May Alcott” by Maria S. Porter

I made a complete list of the artifacts on display. I wish I could show you pictures but taking photos is prohibited at Orchard House; you will need to get a copy of The Annotated Little Women.

Here goes:

In the kitchen:

  • First editions of Hospital Sketches and Little Women
  • Original photos of the Hosmer cottage known as Dove Cote and Orchard House (the one with the unique fence built by Bronson).

In the dining room:

  • A quote from Louisa, handwritten, circa 1869
  • An autographed dance fan including the autographs of Louisa, May and Ellen Emerson.

In the parlor:

  • Three Pickwick Club badges
  • A display dedicated to Anna and John including the original marriage certificate and photographs

In Louisa’s room:

  • Louisa’s homeopathic medicine kit (including a list of ailments treated by the medicines)
  • A lock of Louisa’s hair
  • Sketches of Louisa by May, one familiar (“The Golden Goose”), one not (she has a cat at her feet)
  • A photo of Alf Whitman sitting on the half moon desk
  • Original versions of publicity photos of Louisa circa 1870, 1875, 1880, and two from 1887.
  • An ad for Little Men
  • A sculpture by Daniel Chester French of two owls cuddling–this artifact was acquired just three weeks ago.

In May’s room:

  • Tracings May did of drawings by John Flaxman circa 1857; she then copied the tracings around the moldings of the windows
  • Original watercolor of Ernest Nieriker by May in their Meuden salon – the color was especially brilliant.
  • Original photograph of Alice Bartlett and May.

In the hallway under Lulu’s portrait:

  • An original copy of Studying Art Abroad and How to Do It Cheaply by May Alcott Nieriker

In Bronson and Abba’s room:

  • Lizzie’s sewing kit, given to her by her father on her twenty-first birthday in 1856, It was surprisingly compact and featured a lovely inscription by Bronson.
  • A little book of Abba’s “Recipes and Simple Remedies” plus two original photos, one I had not seen before taken in 1850 but it is so small that it would be impossible to reproduce. The other was familiar, circa 1858.
  • Sketches of Frederick Pratt by May, one on a rocking horse and the other, playing Lizzie’s melodeon.
  • Small photos of John Pratt as a baby and toddler
  • Original photo of Lulu in the carriage

The best was saved for last–in Bronson’s study:

  • May’s original sketch of Bronson
  • Various original photos of Bronson
  • Original lithograph of the Temple School in Boston
  • And a display containing:
  • A lock of Lizzie’s hair with a tiny inscribed note in her perfect penmanship
  • Another lock of Lizzie’s combined with a lock of Bronson’s
  • Lizzie’s New Testament, an exquisite tiny book which originally belonged to Bronson–he gave it to Lizzie and then it was bequeathed to May.
  • Bronson’s copy of The Pilgrim’s Progress, also a tiny book (though a little bigger than the New Testament and a lot thicker) with beautiful engraving

I was grateful for being in a small group so that I could examine each artifact freely. My only wish is for the lighting to have been better as it was a cloudy day and I wanted to see every detail (how I wish I had had my super duper reading glasses!).

I must say that all the different artifacts belonging to Lizzie that were given to her by her father (and especially the two locks of hair entwined) told me much about the special relationship between Bronson and his Psyche.

Don’t miss this great exhibit!

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