Tidbits of news, and beginning a trip to Fruitlands

Just heard some awesome news from Jan Turnquist at Orchard House – the long missing papers of Madelon Bedell are now safely ensconced at Orchard House.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Bedell wrote a scholarly work entitled The Alcotts Biography of a Family; it was supposed to have been in 2 volumes but sadly, Bedell passed away before the second volume was written. Since the early 1980s, the papers have not been accessible. Harriet Reisen did get to see the final interview with Lulu Nieriker, May Alcott Nieriker’s daughter (adopted by Louisa when May died shortly after childbirth) – this interview was written about in Louisa May Alcott The Woman Behind Little Women.

These are important papers and it’s wonderful that they have finally made their way to Orchard House. Undoubtedly it was down a long and winding road!

I may have reported this second piece of news before but it’s worth repeating: there is a book in the works on Abba Alcott and Louisa called Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother (Free Press) by Eve LaPlante (thanks to Gina for this tidbit; Harriet Reisen confirmed it too). LaPlante is apparently a distant cousin of Louisa May Alcott and is also related to Anne Hutchinson, a notable early Puritan (PBS has a wonderful series called God in America that you can watch in full – the first episode, “A New Adam,” gives information on Anne Hutchinson). The following information was released on the Reading the Past blog:

In another deal, this time for nonfiction: author of American Jezebel and cousin of Louisa May Alcott Eve LaPlante’s MARMEE & LOUISA, the true story of Louisa May Alcott and her mother, based on recently discovered Alcott family papers and Abigail May Alcott’s unpublished and unexplored letters and journals, sold to Hilary Redmon at Free Press, in a pre-empt, for publication in November 2012, by Lane Zachary and Rachel Sussman at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency (World). [via PM]

This is such a great time to be learning more about Louisa May Alcott!

Speaking of such, it would appear that now is the right time for me to read Richard Francis’ work, Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia. I have been putting off reading this book because I was frankly intimidated by the subject and the author who has amazing credentials. As reported in a previous post, Francis gave a presentation in Concord about his book and I was very taken by his intellect, and his dry wit. I knew, however, this book would be a dense read, requiring quite a commitment. Since I take notes while I read and I read slowly, this is a long term commitment. I am happy to report that it is well worth the time! This book is fabulous. Francis is not only witty and brilliant, but he does such a great job of making connections and translating the rather obtuse language of Ralph Waldo Emerson and especially Bronson Alcott into something I can readily understand. You can see by the picture that my book is already full of sticky tags waiting for notes to be taken.:-) Finally I am beginning to get the answers I’ve been searching for about what Transcendentalism is, who founded it (the cast of characters is amazing) and how the prevailing religion of the 19th century influenced it. Some of the ideas are incredibly preposterous and yet there’s truth stuck in there too; Francis’ wit helps to extract that truth. It’s an incredibly stimulating read. It is true that the book takes a lot of time laying out the groundwork (I understand that he doesn’t even get into the actual Fruitlands experiment in Harvard, MA until halfway through the book, but he does explain why in the preface).

I never thought I could have this much fun learning! Life is good. 🙂


4 Replies to “Tidbits of news, and beginning a trip to Fruitlands”

  1. “Beyond Little Women” celebrated Louisa in this living history performance by Marianne Donnelly at Brownell Library, Essex Junction VT. Available for national bookings. References available. YouTube clip by googling “Donnelly Alcott Youtube”. 831-454-6333. Mdonnelly00@gmail.com. Thank you to all biographers.

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