Louisa May Alcott’s exquisite needlework and its connection to “Jack and Jill”

jack and jillI am indebted to my good friend Virginia Martin for alerting me to the latest issue of “Piecework” and the wonderful article by Lisa-Anne Bauch about Louisa May Alcott’s needlework and its connection to one of her later juvenile novels, Jack and Jill.

Bauch summarizes the plot and weaves Louisa’s use of needlework to flesh out  her characters.

Cathlin Davis, PhD, an expert on Louisa’s writings, and Jan Turnquist, Executive Director of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, contributed to the article.

Turnquist remarked on Louisa’s needlework skill and her beautiful creations. She marveled at the fact that workaholic  author could find  the time. My guess is that she spun stories as she sewed, and found the work to be therapeutic and restful.  Anna reflected in her 1861 journal on the benefits she experienced from the activity”

I spent the afternoon as usual in sewing, that never failing service of womankind the world over, & a blessed invention for quieting troubled nerves, & easing the heartache, for I think poor woman often sews away many pains & troubles of both the body & mind, stitch stitch stitch being a gentle tranquilizer.” (Thursday, March 14, 1861 from Ray Angelo’s annotated transcription)

Lizzie too found sewing to be her saving grace during the last months of her life, finding purpose in the work, and enjoyment in sharing her trinkets with the schoolchildren passing under her window at Bedford Street.

Here is the article in its entirety.

Click to access piecework-article-on-jack-and-jilll.pdf

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7 Replies to “Louisa May Alcott’s exquisite needlework and its connection to “Jack and Jill””

  1. JACK AND JILL is one of my favorite Alcotts; thanks for posting the article. My mom used to tat like Jill–I remember the steady snick-snick-snick of the metal tatting needle.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this! I thoroughly loved reading Alcott’s Jack and Jill, and enjoyed how this article explained a bit more than I originally took away from the book.

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