I am pleased to present this guest post by Elizabeth Hilprecht, a regular reader whose insightful comments you have most likely read. We have been having a wonderful email chat back and forth about Daniel Shealy’s Little Women Abroad and I asked her if she would share some of the wonderful stories taken from letters to home written by Louisa May Alcott and her sister May describing their European exploits. She graciously accepted.
Little Women Abroad is a valuable book including a lengthy introduction, seventy one letters from Louisa and May (with fifty eight published for the first time) and many pages of drawings by May Alcott. Daniel Shealy’s scholarship is impeccable. Besides the colorful stories are letters about the death of John Pratt and the grief experienced by the sisters and business correspondences between “Jo” and “Tom” (Louisa and Thomas Niles, her publisher).
Little Women Abroad also provides a valuable look into the world of two independent and successful sisters (one already established and the other on the cusp) providing a bird’s eye view of Europe in the nineteenth century. We are indeed fortunate that the Alcott family so valued letter writing; Bronson in particular felt that letters should be saved and savored — he ended up transcribing all the letters sent to him and Abba during the daughters’ first year in Europe.
There is something intriguing about the history of a home – who designed it and why, what accomplishments occurred under its refuge, who might have met within its walls and what precious moments might have consequently transpired? This trail follows the homes from the life of Louisa May Alcott that appear to make cameo appearances in Little Women – from their humble homes in Concord to the Hancock family manor in Boston.
“Noble Companions and Immortal Labors”*:
The Alcotts, Thoreaus, and the Quest for Social Justice
Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House SUMMER CONVERSATIONAL SERIES Sunday, July 16 – Thursday, July 20, 2017
Transcendental neighbors and thinkers Amos Bronson Alcott and Henry David Thoreau shared ideals and hopes for changing society. Ever interested in improving the world to make it a better place to live in, they and their families worked publicly and also behind the scenes to stand up for social justice and put themselves on the line for others. The women as well as the men were committed to furthering the cause of justice, freedom, and equality in their communities and in the world at large. Continue reading →
I am pleased to present this guest post by Helen Batchelder — she had the privilege of visiting the birthplace of Bronson Alcott.
You can still sign up to attend Helen’s two lectures on Alcott at the Fruitlands Museum – call 978-456-3924, ext. 291. Cost is $12 for members, $20 for non-members.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Land impacts our development, actions, preferences, and constitutions.
Did you grow up on flat farmland? Near mountains? By rivers? Lakes? Streams? In a cityscape? I grew up in a quiet country town that had two major disturbances — the construction of a highway, and housing developments prompted by a boom in the job market thanks to Digital and IBM, but they were far from my drumlin, my arthritic ancient apple trees, and the gigantic rocks left behind by running glaciers. Likely this granted me a very different perspective on life and my place in it than I otherwise might have had, if the privacy of my childhood home had been the 34th floor of an apartment building in New York. In my research on Amos “Bronson” Alcott, I kept turning to his hometown, picturing him, a youth, the first of his parents’ nine children, ambling about a sparsely wooded hill, gathering who he would be. I provincially imagined that hill to be like my drumlin, much smaller than the 420’ elevation of my hometown of Harvard, Massachusetts in which he would, in 1843, attempt a “Con-sociation” called Fruitlands. Continue reading →
Last Wednesday I attended the first of three lectures on Bronson Alcott at the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, MA, presented by Helen Batchelder, a local scholar.
Fruitlands in the dark
I have never been to Fruitlands before in the dark and it was disconcerting to see the lights over the mountains, reminding me it was 2017 and not 1843. Gazing down the road however, I could not make out the red farmhouse in the dark and for a moment, I could feel the intense loneliness and isolation of living there. The Fruitlands experiment was, if anything, high drama for two families and it was to impact them for the rest of their lives. To get a sense of the tragedy of Fruitlands, I highly suggest reading John Matteson’s account in Eden’s Outcasts.
from Bronson Alcott’s Fruitlands by Clara Endicott
The deal was brokered by Marsha Malinowski Fine Books & Manuscripts of New York City.
Some of the 500+ pages of material includes chapters from Eight Cousins and Under the Lilacs.
Malinowski stressed that this is the largest and most important body of manuscript material in the hand of Alcott that has been offered for sale. They are working manuscripts with edits from which the type was set and the books printed. Continue reading →