NOTE: I feel a need to append this post as I have heard from many of you about all the inaccuracies in this article. This seamless mixing of fact, fiction and mythology between the fictional Marches and the real-life Alcotts is rather common in writing from this period. I’ve read several newspaper accounts from the 1930s available from the papers of Margaret Lothrop (from the Wayside, at the Minuteman National Park archives) that were similar in nature. Some of the books from the period also reflect this style. I think of Honore Willsie Morrow’s The Father of Little Women (published in 1927) which combines fanciful imagined dialog between family members while at the same time including valuable transcriptions of previously unknown diary entries and letters. Needless to say, scholarship has certainly changed for the better when it comes to the Alcotts!
Photoplay is a movie magazine and my immediate thought was that the author embellished the facts to make it appeal to an audience who had seen the Katherine Hepburn movie. It sold magazines and movie tickets for sure!
It is fun to read such accounts and pick it apart. 🙂 Enjoy!
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Thanks to an inquiry from a reader (Julie), I can unveil this wonderful article written by the wife of Frederick Pratt, the son of Anna Alcott Pratt. Her name is Jessica Lillian Cate Pratt.
The article appeared in the February, 1934 edition of Photoplay Magazine as continuing promotion for the George Cukor-directed 1933 film, Little Women starring Katherine Hepburn as Jo.
Julie tells me that Jessica Pratt died the year the article came out so we are most fortunate to have her recollections of the family.
Many thanks to Ray Angelo (he discovered the new photos of Anna and John) for helping me find this article.
Download the article here — 00 Photoplay-Feb1934-Virginia Maxwell-article with Mrs. Pratt
Or, click on the pictures to enlarge and read:
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5 Replies to “1934 article in Photoplay Magazine provides description of Alcott girls by Jessica Lillian Cate Pratt, Anna’s daughter-in-law”
This is the kind of stuff we like! Although I believe the journalist got some of the facts mixed up.😣
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How interesting this was to read, Susan. Even with the inaccuracies, it is quite interesting and in keeping with the the era and magazine it appeared in. Thank you for sharing it.
I love this kind of stuff; it’s so fun. Glad you enjoyed it.
To most people, it doesn’t matter if the facts are correct. I get that a lot at my museum job. I was disappointed to learn the story all elementary school children were told was not entirely correct and the museum used to spread history myths. I think this article is another example of story vs. facts in getting people interested in a particular topic. The link to the story is all that matters.
I took my young nieces to Orchard House for the first time last month. We did the living history tour with “May.” She did a great job telling us about her famous family and showing us the house. My nieces loved it so much, they’re eager to read Little Women now. I suggested they wait a few more years. They’re still learning how to read. I did promise to buy a cheap used paperback abridged version for them to start with. The 9 year old saw some of the 1990s movie and loved it.
Aw, cool exposing your nieces to Little Women. That’s one of the very special things about the book — how it gets passed from from mothers to daughters, aunts to nieces, older friends to younger ones, teachers to students.