Major acquisition by the Concord Library of Louisa May Alcott working manuscripts

Alcott scholar Joel Myerson announced today that the Concord Library has acquired rare working manuscripts of Louisa May Alcott, pointing to an article titled Louisa May Alcott Manuscripts Go to Concord Free Public Library in Private Sale” by Jeanne Schinto.

The deal was brokered by Marsha Malinowski Fine Books & Manuscripts of New York City.

eight cousins the clanSome of the 500+ pages of material includes chapters from Eight Cousins and Under the Lilacs.

Malinowski stressed that this is the largest and most important body of manuscript material in the hand of Alcott that has been offered for sale. They are working manuscripts with edits from which the type was set and the books printed.

under-the-lilacsThe manuscripts will become part of the William Munroe Special Collections, made available for study by scholars and students.

While not the first acquisition of manuscripts by the library, it is certainly the largest. Since the nineteenth century Special Collections has had two chapters of Little Women and two of Little Men. After consulting with Alcott scholar Daniel Shealy, curator Leslie Perrin Wilson concluded these too were working manuscripts.

The purchase of these 500+ additional pages allows for deeper study of Alcott’s writing and editing methods. Myerson commented that this acquisition fills a gap, providing detailed evidence of Alcott’s writing craft. So few of her literary manuscripts have survived because it was common practice to discard the originals once the book was published.

“Scholars will use these to study Alcott’s writing and revision habits in ways that have been hard to do before,” said Myerson. Alcott played down the work that went into her writing, wishing readers to believe she wrote with little revision.

Schinto’s article provides fascinating information regarding how the small town’s library was set up to be able to acquire such artifacts.

The Concord Free Public Library
The Concord Free Public Library

You can read more about this exciting procurement here.

NOTE: THIS is why it pays to belong to the Louisa May Alcott Society! It was through their listserv that I found out this news. For a mere $10 per year, you can be up on the latest news and discuss Alcott with learned scholars. Visit the Louisa May Alcott Society website for more on how to join.




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