Anna Alcott Pratt was one of the better writers in the family. Fluid, thoughtful and precise, her letters and journals provide valuable insight into Alcott family life. I have often referred to her as the family secretary since she presents each family member just as they are with no commentary on her part. The details she gives in her letters are valuable to those of us interested in studying the Alcotts as a family.
She was also more complex than her fictional counterpart, Meg March. An aspiring actress with real talent, she had to put that activity aside when she lost her hearing. She enjoyed studying like her father although her interest was history rather than philosophy and metaphysics. Painfully candid at times with her faults and failings, she was the oldest sister who deferred to the head of the family, Louisa May Alcott.
Anna left behind journals as well as letters. One such set of journals dates back to the early 1860s when she first got married. It is available online from the Houghton Library at Harvard University.
Ray Angelo, who discovered the new photos of Anna Alcott Pratt and John Pratt (see previous post), has transcribed Anna Alcott Pratt’s diary from the early 1860s. It is a fascinating read and a wonderful gift to Alcott scholarship. Ray has donated his transcription to the Houghton Library and it is hoped they will post it. But in the meantime, he has posted it on his website. Enjoy!
Ray Angelo provided this picture of the sewing machine that Anna refers to in her journal:
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