Merry Christmas from Orchard House (and from me!) – a look back over an extraordinary year, and a look ahead

2017 has been a banner year for Alcott fans (and more is promised in 2018 and 2019 as the 150th anniversary of the publication of Little Women looms). As a result it has also been quite the year for this blog! Especially within the last several months, the growth of readership has been extraordinary. I have so enjoyed all of your comments as our community continues to grow.

High points of 2017

Undoubtedly the news of the year is the new BBC One/Masterpiece series on Little Women. Those lucky viewers in Great Britain will get to see the series over Christmas while those of us in the states will have to wait until May 13 and 20. It bodes well for the series that Jan Turnquist, Executive Director of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House was brought in as consultant.

No doubt the biggest thrill of 2017 has been the discovery of the photograph of Anna Alcott Pratt and the coverage in the Boston Globe. The best part was working with such dedicated people to bring this photograph and those of John Bridge Pratt to the public. I have been asked to contribute an article to the January newsletter for the Louisa May Alcott Society.

Another even more important discovery this year was acquistion by the Concord Library of working manuscripts by Louisa May Alcott. For the first time scholars can see the edits made by the author written in the margins of the manuscripts as they were prepared for publication. It affords a tremendous opportunity for study of Louisa’s writing process.

Another milestone is the creation of the new Facebook discussion group sponsored by the Louisa Alcott Society and Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House. This is a great place to get together and chat about all things Louisa May Alcott.

A wonderful novel based on the life of May Alcott Nieriker (and her relationship with Louisa) was released this year and has attracted lots of attention, It was written by Elise Hooper and is called The Other Alcott.

Looking ahead to 2018

2018 promises new books on Little Women as a result of the 150th anniversary of its publication. Coming in August will be Anne Boyd Rioux’s much anticipated  Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters. It is available on Amazon for pre-order.

And speaking of books, over the course of 2017  I have made progress on my book on Elizabeth Sewall Alcott. While I cannot reveal any further information at this time, things appear to be moving in the right direction. You will be the first to know when I say more.

Orchard House’s Summer Conversational Series will be focusing on Little Women; it takes place the week of July 15-19. Details can be found at

I have been offered a public speaking engagement by the Grafton (MA) Historical Society in partnership with the Public Library. It will take place on February 8 at 7pm at the Grafton Community Barn. If you are local to the area, I hope you can come! The topic is:

“Housekeeping ain’t no joke:” Victorian Huswifery with the Alcotts

Author, blogger and Alcott aficionado Susan Bailey explores the often back-breaking work of the typical Victorian housewife through the experiences of Louisa May Alcott and her family. Having moved some 30 times before setting in Orchard House in 1858, the Alcotts dwelled in a variety of homes, from rural to city, from slum to mansion. Until the publication of Little Women in 1868, they lived in poverty. Through their varied experiences Ms. Bailey explores the love-hate relationship between 19th century housewives and the endless chores of cooking, cleaning, sewing and laundry.

A Christmas greeting

Finally, I could not think of a more appropriate way to wish you all a Merry Christmas than to feature this article by Lis Adams, education director at Orchard House.. Louisa May Alcott is truly a Christmas author who inspires her readers to give of ourselves to those around us. She knew the true meaning of the season.

Season’s Greetings to all of you, and Happy New Year!

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4 Replies to “Merry Christmas from Orchard House (and from me!) – a look back over an extraordinary year, and a look ahead”

  1. Susan, Thank you for all that you do keeping this blog. I agree It has been a great year. You have done a great job keeping us all informed with many interesting things going on. –Diane

  2. Thank you Susan I enjoyed this – its good to be reminded of the hard work completed by Alcott House and lovers of the novel . Just watched Little Women here, on BBC. There are lots of questions I should like to ask Heidi Thomas. Parts of it worked for me, others did not. Mostly for me,strange to say, the lighting did not. Was it filmed close to the coast? It always felt as if there was a boardwalk just out of sight. The light and heat in Concord are so much more intense… BTW is the Concorde Bookshop still there?

    1. Yes as well as the Barrow, the excellent used bookstore. From what I have gathered, the series has gotten mixed reviews, either really good or really bad. Guess a book as passionately loved as Little Women would evoke passionate reactions. 🙂 I look forward to seeing it in the spring. Glad you liked the post!

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