“Housekeeping ain’t no joke …” Victorian Huswifery with the Alcotts

Coming up on Thursday, February 8 from 7 to 8:30 pm at the Brigham Hill Community Barn in Grafton, MA (my hometown), I will be giving a presentation on the Victorian housewife as seen through the experiences of the Alcotts:

Description

I will explores the back-breaking work of the typical Victorian housewife through the experiences of Louisa May Alcott and her family. The Alcotts dwelled in all kinds of homes, from rural to city, from slum to mansion. Through their experiences I examine the love-hate relationship between 19th century housewives and the endless chores of cooking, cleaning, sewing and laundry.

The presentation will include a slideshow of pictures of various homes where the Alcotts lived, along with various tools they would have used in daily housework.

It is sponsored by the Grafton Historical Society in partnership with the Grafton Public Library.

Location

The Brigham Hill Community Barn is found on 37 Wheeler Road in  Grafton. It’s a beautiful setting for this presentation.

Email me at louisamayalcottismypassion@gmail.com or call 508-839-0000 for more information.

Hope to see you there!

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Merry Christmas from Orchard House (and from me!) – a look back over an extraordinary year, and a look ahead

2017 has been a banner year for Alcott fans (and more is promised in 2018 and 2019 as the 150th anniversary of the publication of Little Women looms). As a result it has also been quite the year for this blog! Especially within the last several months, the growth of readership has been extraordinary. I have so enjoyed all of your comments as our community continues to grow.

High points of 2017

Undoubtedly the news of the year is the new BBC One/Masterpiece series on Little Women. Those lucky viewers in Great Britain will get to see the series over Christmas while those of us in the states will have to wait until May 13 and 20. It bodes well for the series that Jan Turnquist, Executive Director of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House was brought in as consultant.

No doubt the biggest thrill of 2017 has been the discovery of the photograph of Anna Alcott Pratt and the coverage in the Boston Globe. The best part was working with such dedicated people to bring this photograph and those of John Bridge Pratt to the public. I have been asked to contribute an article to the January newsletter for the Louisa May Alcott Society.

Another even more important discovery this year was acquistion by the Concord Library of working manuscripts by Louisa May Alcott. For the first time scholars can see the edits made by the author written in the margins of the manuscripts as they were prepared for publication. It affords a tremendous opportunity for study of Louisa’s writing process.

Another milestone is the creation of the new Facebook discussion group sponsored by the Louisa Alcott Society and Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House. This is a great place to get together and chat about all things Louisa May Alcott.

A wonderful novel based on the life of May Alcott Nieriker (and her relationship with Louisa) was released this year and has attracted lots of attention, It was written by Elise Hooper and is called The Other Alcott.

Looking ahead to 2018

2018 promises new books on Little Women as a result of the 150th anniversary of its publication. Coming in August will be Anne Boyd Rioux’s much anticipated  Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters. It is available on Amazon for pre-order.

And speaking of books, over the course of 2017  I have made progress on my book on Elizabeth Sewall Alcott. While I cannot reveal any further information at this time, things appear to be moving in the right direction. You will be the first to know when I say more.

Orchard House’s Summer Conversational Series will be focusing on Little Women; it takes place the week of July 15-19. Details can be found at louisamayalcott.org.

I have been offered a public speaking engagement by the Grafton (MA) Historical Society in partnership with the Public Library. It will take place on February 8 at 7pm at the Grafton Community Barn. If you are local to the area, I hope you can come! The topic is:

“Housekeeping ain’t no joke:” Victorian Huswifery with the Alcotts

Author, blogger and Alcott aficionado Susan Bailey explores the often back-breaking work of the typical Victorian housewife through the experiences of Louisa May Alcott and her family. Having moved some 30 times before setting in Orchard House in 1858, the Alcotts dwelled in a variety of homes, from rural to city, from slum to mansion. Until the publication of Little Women in 1868, they lived in poverty. Through their varied experiences Ms. Bailey explores the love-hate relationship between 19th century housewives and the endless chores of cooking, cleaning, sewing and laundry.

A Christmas greeting

Finally, I could not think of a more appropriate way to wish you all a Merry Christmas than to feature this article by Lis Adams, education director at Orchard House.. Louisa May Alcott is truly a Christmas author who inspires her readers to give of ourselves to those around us. She knew the true meaning of the season.

Season’s Greetings to all of you, and Happy New Year!

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New Facebook discussion group on Louisa May Alcott — come join us! Plus, more sneak peaks at the Little Women BBC series

In a collaboration between the Louisa May Alcott Society and Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, a new Facebook discussion group has been created. It is called Louisa May Alcott: A Group for Fans, Readers, & Scholars.

I hope you will all join in on the discussion!

Here’s a tease as to what is available in this group — pictures from the new Little Women series on BBC One:

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More pictures are promised — visit Louisa May Alcott: A Group for Fans, Readers, & Scholars and join!

Be sure and visit the Louisa May Alcott Society website as well — membership for one year is only $10 (best $10 I’ve spent in a long while!)

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Air dates for “Little Women” in America on Masterpiece Theatre announced!

Here is Orchard House’s announcement regarding the airing of “Little Women” on Masterpiece Theatre (taken from a December 7, 2017 Facebook post):

“Now and then, in this work-a-day world, things do happen in the delightful story-book fashion, and what a comfort that is.” from Little Women, “Pleasant Meadows.” It’s true! Thrilled to share that the new adaptation of Little Women will air Sundays, May 13 & 20, 2018 at 8/7c on Masterpiece on PBS! To our friends around the world, you may even catch it sooner during the holiday season (lucky!). This series will release on DVD, too. Delightful, indeed!

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Air dates announced for Little Women on the BBC!

For all you lucky souls who get BBC One, the air dates have been announced for the three-part Little Women series! Continue reading

Recent discovery of photos of Anna Alcott and John Pratt covered in the Boston Globe

I am pleased to announce that the Boston Globe has covered the recent discovery of previously unpublished photos of Anna Alcott Pratt and John Bridge Pratt which I posted on this blog. Here you will meet Mrs. Donna Keeler, the owner of the photo album, and get to see the album page with John and Anna.

The print version of the article is out in Monday’s paper (December 4, 2017); you can read the online version here. Continue reading

Little Women Anthology announced for 2018 — looking for submissions

Pink Umbrella Books, a Phoenix-based micropublisher is currently accepting submissions for a Little Women Anthology in honor of the upcoming 2018 150th anniversary of its publication.

Here are details from their website:

from the Houghton Library, Harvard University

Pink Umbrella Books is pleased to honor the beloved children’s classic with an original anthology. We invite writers around the world to submit their best previously unpublished creative nonfiction inspired by Alcott’s novel (memoir, essay, literary journalism and everything in between) for consideration. We welcome pieces between 500 – 7,000 words that speak to the life and legacy of Little Women. Have you made a pilgrimage to Orchard House? Are you turning into your Marmee? Did you jilt a “perfect” (Italian and musical) suitor? Maybe you met the modern Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy—but in a Karachi slum. Perhaps you’re a nurse with a Beth story, or you just want to—literarily, rather than literally—wrench the clothespin off Amy’s upturned nose. Whatever the story, we want to hear from you.

We’ll be accepting your Little Women-inspired submissions at submissions@pinkumbrellabooks.com through March 1st, 2018. Please include a brief bio of no more than 200 words along with your work. Multiple submissions are accepted, and entry is free and open to all. Authors selected for inclusion will receive 2 copies of the anthology upon publication. Nonfiction in any style is welcome—however, we value authentic, vivid work, and, just like Jo, we prefer “good strong words that mean something.”

For more information, visit the Pink Umbrella Books website.

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