Getting to know the women who discovered Louisa’s alias as A. M. Barnard

I discovered a wonderful article about Madeleine Stern and Leona  Rostenberg in a journal for the Independent Online Bookseller’s Association. This group, the IOBA, features articles about antiquarian (aka old) book collectors and sellers.

Rostenberg and Stern are best known for their discovery of Louisa May Alcott’s secret life as A. M. Barnard. Under that pen name she wrote many “blood and thunder” thrillers, considered risqué in her day. Such thrillers include short stories like “Pauline’s Passion and Punishment” (which won the $100 prize from Frank Leslie’s magazine).

Stern assembled these stories into a book, Behind a Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott, in 1972.

These “blood and thunder” stories supported Louisa and her family for many years until she wrote Little Women which would make her financially independent for life.

Here then is an excerpt from the article about  Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern – there will be a link at the end of excerpt where you can read the rest.

from the IOBA Standard
The Journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association

Rostenberg & Stern: An Appreciation

September 9, 2011
By Christine Lowenstein Fall 2011 (Vol. X, No. 2)

If, like me, you haven’t been born into a family that boasts generations of booksellers, if bookselling isn’t in your blood, you can always learn from the past. Reading the memoirs of those booksellers who came before us can be as edifying as it is entertaining. There are many to booksellers from which to choose, but two in particular can inspire and educate: Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine B. Stern. Lifelong friends and business partners, the two ran their antiquarian book business, Rostenberg & Stern Rare Books, for 60 years and wrote dozens of books between them. They conducted some of the finest literary scholarship of their time and did much to promote the antiquarian book trade, participating in the ABAA (Rostenberg as President from 1972-1974) and founding the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, held annually since 1960. They may be the only two antiquarian booksellers ever to have a musical penned in their honor, Bookends, written by Katharine Houghton and performed at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch in 2007.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.


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