I loved this section that I read in Carolyn Ticknor’s May Alcott A Memoir this morning. It details how May, while visiting the small village of Grez in France ( the latest mecca for artists), ran into a 14 year old fan of Little Women. Having read before how Louisa May Alcott was the first author to have experienced mass media-type fame (not unlike Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling), it follows then that her family members would be considered celebrities too. It never really occurred to me until I read this passage:
(the letter comes from an Isobel Osbourne ne: Mrs. Salisbury Field, and it was written in July of 1926, recounting that summer of 1877 chance encounter)
” I distinctly remember meeting her [May Alcott] at Julien’s studio, in the old Passage des Panormas, off the Boulevard des Italiens. I was very young them and of course had read and adored Little Women, and I was thrilled when told that the tall, distinguished-looking lady, who wore her hair in curls, was ‘Amy’ of that beloved family. I gazed at her with awe and admiration, just a little disenchanted to find her grown-up and reserved. I know I asked her several questions diffidently, and she answered kindly, but in a bored manner as though she had heard them very often before, ‘Yes, Laurie was a real person.’ ‘No, she did not marry him,’ that sort of thing.
As I remember her through such a mist of years, she was tall, very slender and graceful, and wore her hair in long curls down her back, rather unusual fashion even for those days. I was much interested in her, but she naturally was not particularly interested in a young person of fourteen, who stared at her with absorbed attention an asked all the usual questions. As I said, we left Grez before 1879, but she knew my mother at Julien’s studio, for I often saw them talking together.”
It reminded me of how I felt looking at May Alcott Nieriker’s room at Orchard House and seeing her pencil drawings on the walls of her room. I too had that same feeling of awe.