The Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott

The Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott

by Louisa May Alcott
     
 

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The Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott contains a broad cross-section of letters from the correspondence of the creator of Little Women and provides a compelling autobiography of this most autobiographical of writers. Spanning a period of forty-five years, this collection provides vivid accounts of Alcott's life and development as a

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Overview

The Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott contains a broad cross-section of letters from the correspondence of the creator of Little Women and provides a compelling autobiography of this most autobiographical of writers. Spanning a period of forty-five years, this collection provides vivid accounts of Alcott's life and development as a writer.

Episodes in Alcott's life are candidly reflected: her youth, when the prototype of Jo March was already being shaped; the 1868 publication of Little Women and the prosperity and renown the book brought its author; her never-ending struggles for her family; the final years spent caring for her niece and an invalid father. Alcott's letters also furnished a vent for the pressures she felt to write a sequel to Little Women and play matchmaker for the novel's heroine. Writing to a friend in early 1869, Alcott remarked that "Jo should have remained a literary spinster but so many enthusiastic young ladies wrote to me clamorously demanding that she should marry Laurie, or somebody, that I didnt dare to refuse & out of perversity went & made a funny match for her. I expect vials of wrath to be poured out upon my head, but rather enjoy the prospect."

The correspondence sheds light on Alcott's relationship with her publishers, such friends as Emerson and Thoreau, and members of her family. Of particular note are her observations—many of them firsthand—on such major issues of the day as abolition, the Civil War, and the women's rights movement.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[This] volume should win for Louisa May Alcott a whole new set of admirers."—American Heritage

"Exuberant, witty, observant, curious, at times refreshingly malicious, Alcott seeks out 'experiences' with a zest."—New York Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Louisa May Alcott produced several hundred letters, and the first one here, written by the 11-year-old child to her mother in 1843, includes the postscript: ``It a book mark is not very pretty, but it is all I had to give.'' The final letter by the successful author, shortly before her death in 1888, speaks of her brief stint as an Army nurse: `` . . . I wish I had a fuller record to offer . . . but I may perhaps deserve a humble place among the women who did what they could.'' Between these characteristically modest yet assertive statements there is a wealth of colorful, determined, cranky, humorous, affectionate correspondence, salted with Yankee colloquialisms. The recipients range from eminent people like Lucy Stone, Ralph Waldo Emerson and publisher Thomas Niles to friends of the Alcott and May families. A large part of the correspondence is about her books, but the letters before 1868, when Little Women was published, also deal with the perennial poverty of the Alcotts, the activities of the four sisters and the struggles of Louisa to support herself and contribute to the ``Alcott Sinking Fund'' by working as a seamstress and governess until she sold her first story for $10. After the success of Little Women, there is much about her attempts to meet publishers' insistent demands for more material, increasing ill health, European travel and unceasing attention to family concerns as the chief breadwinner. The voice of the writer and woman is palpable throughout, insistent and appealing. Myerson and Shealy both teach at the University of South Carolina; Stern is an Alcott scholar. Illustrations not seen by PW. (September 16)
Library Journal
This collection brings together 271 of 649 known Alcott letters in manuscript or print; 138 are herein published for the first time. Myerson and Shealy have done yeoman work, footnoting, annotating, and citing archival sources, while Stern, author of a first-rate biography of Alcott, highlights the life and career of the lady from Concord, whose best-known work, Little Women , brought her fame, money, and agony. Letters to family, friends, publishers, authors, and teacherson subjects ranging from abolitionism to women's suffragegive us in humorous, ironic, and despairing tones a portrait at once fascinating and poignant. A superb account in every way of the March Family chronicler. Marc Widershien , Special Collections, State Lib. of Massachusetts

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820317403
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
08/01/1995
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
410
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.96(d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Shealy is a professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Madeleine B. Stern is a partner in the New York rare book firm of Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern. She has written or edited several other books, eight about Louisa May Alcott. Joel Myerson is a professor of English at the University of South Carolina and is the author or editor of several books on the American Renaissance. The three have coedited several books about Alcott and her work, including The Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott and The Journals of Louisa May Alcott, both published by the University of Georgia Press.

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