Did the real-life Amy know Laurie? Apparently so, and they were good friends! How do we know? Through a stash of letters at the Houghton Library from May Alcott to Alfred Whitman.
Who was Laurie based upon?
Alf is one of two boys on whom Laurie from Little Women was based (the other being Louisa’s “Polish boy,” Laddie). Alf and Louisa corresponded for many years long after his departure from Concord despite their age difference of about 10 years (he being 15 and she 25 when they met in Concord in 1857). They acted together in the Concord Dramatic Union (now the Concord Players) and referred to each other in their letters as Dolphus and Sophy, from roles they had played in “Haunted Man.”
You can download the article here:
alf whitman ladies home journal v. 18 1900-1901
Alf Whitman’s other friend
I did not realize that May too had become friendly with Alf – she was only two years older than he. She would refer to him too on occasion as Dolphus. So in fact, the real Amy March did get together with the real Laurie Laurence! (Although they never married).
May’s life as a young adult
These ten letters, covering the years 1858-1861, give interesting details of May’s fairly carefree life at 18, 19 and 20. The letters are upbeat and newsy but surprisingly, lack any mention whatsoever of the tragedy that occurred in the Alcott home with the death of older sister Lizzie. As far as I know, there is only one line in an 1862 journal which May had just taken up again after letting it lag for a good ten years. Here is what she wrote:
A carefree life
May’s letters mostly consist of descriptions of her very active social life consisting of parties, skating, horseback riding, rowing and playing whist. She also bragged of flirting! There is a period where she spent 3 months in Syracuse, at the invitation of Uncle Sam May, to teach piano, singing and art. She was not yet thinking of pursuing art as a career. But she also was not interested in settling down to marry and have children.
Here are links to the 10 letters from Houghton Library. Her handwriting is very easy to read (although it is interesting to note how it changed, the letters becoming bigger and rounder as she grew older).
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9 Replies to “Did the real Amy March get together with the real-life Laurie? Letters between May Alcott and Alf Whitman”
Yes! And don’t you remember Laddie/Laurie showing May the sights of Paris while Louisa was too ill to travel? May had all the fun while her sister got an overdose of trouble, disappointment, hard work and ill health.
Oh yes, I remember from Harriet Reisen’s book. May was given a free ride by the entire family. It’s almost like they wanted one member spared of all the hardship. And you can see what a difference it made in the way she turned out — May was able to enjoy and desire, good times.
I read about Louisa´s friendship with Alf from Harriet Reisen´s book. I didn´t even thought about his friendship with May but of course it makes sense. The more I read about Louisa and May the more I see how Jo and Amy mirror each others.
Yes, they do!
RE: “the free ride from the entire family”-I remember in Anna’s diary, on the 3rd anniversary of Lizzie’s passsing, (which you were so kind as to share with me), Anna also said (re: May) that she sent Abbie(May) credit & approval for her accomplishments for she was so sensitive about her family’s approval & “a little friendly praise never hurt anyone”… “Dear child, I hope she may be spared the troubles and cares that have made Louisa and I old so young.” Best Regards-Alex
Hi Susan: I thought You, or the Members of Your Website or Your Facebook Group might be interested in this I found while surfing the net re the ’94’ Version of Little Women by Susan Sarandon, who played “Marmee”…” Susan Sarandon recently shared that she’d love to see her not-so-little costars from the 1994 adaptation of Little Women once again. Based on the titular Louisa May Alcott novel, Sarandon starred as March family matriarch Marmee in the film, who is tasked with raising her four effervescent daughters: Meg (Trini Alvarado), Jo (Winona Ryder), Beth (Claire Danes), and Amy (Kirsten Dunst).
“I loved all those girls. I would love to have a reunion just to see them all grown up with their babies at this point,” she told Vanity Fair. “It was a special time and a special place.”
The actress recalled that even though her fictional family were all very young at the time of filming — Alvarado was the eldest at 27 — they were each “lovely” to work with on set.
“I found all the girls mind-blowing, but Claire Danes, who was 15 at the time, had to do the scene where she comes down the stairs and sees the piano and bursts into tears and I don’t know how she did that,” Sarandon shared. “She was just great.”
When they weren’t shooting, Sarandon also recalled that Dunst, who was only 12 years old at the time, could often be found “spending a lot of time making lemonade and selling it with my daughter” too.
If the set truly felt like a home, that’s because it was. “We had a very unusual set up because the house was a working set,” Sarandon shared. “So there was bed baking and candle making and I had a real homeopathic kit.”
Best Regards-Love to All-Alex
That was awesome, I just passed it along. Thanks for that!
You are more than welcome Susan. It may be because of the restriction of how much I am able to see on thescreen, but all I could see was the 1st half of the Vanity Fair interview, … just in case I am forwarding the 2nd half of that interview… “I found all the girls mind-blowing, but Claire Danes, whowas 15 at the time, had to do the scene where she comes down the stairs andsees the piano and bursts into tears and I don’t know how she did that,”Sarandon shared. “She was just great.”
When they weren’t shooting, Sarandon also recalled that Dunst,who was only 12 years old at the time, could often be found “spending alot of time making lemonade and selling it with my daughter” too. If the set truly felt like a home, that’s because it was.”We had a very unusual set up because the house was a working set,”Sarandon shared. “So there was bed baking and candle making and I had areal homeopathic kit.” (probably bread baking) ALL MY VERY BEST REGARDS