Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters, and Journals, Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters, and Journals
Louisa May Alcott
13:20 h History Lvl 8.85
Louisa May Alcott was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet best known as the author of the novel Little Women (1868) and its sequels Little Men (1871) and Jo's Boys (1886). This is a collection of her biographical facts, letters and journals, edited by Ednah D. Cheney in 1889. After her service as a nurse, Alcott's father wrote her a heartfelt poem titled "To Louisa May Alcott. From her father". The poem describes how proud her father is of her for working as a nurse and helping injured soldiers as well as bringing cheer and love into their home. He ends the poem by telling her she's in his heart for being a selfless faithful daughter. This poem was featured in the book Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters, and Journals (1889).

Louisa May Alcott:
Her Life, Letters, and Journals

by
Louisa May Alcott

Edited by
Ednah D. Cheney


Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters, and Journals

Introduction

LOUISA MAY ALCOTT is universally recognized as the greatest and most popular story-teller for children in her generation. She has known the way to the hearts of young people, not only in her own class, or even country, but in every condition of life, and in many foreign lands. Plato says, “Beware of those who teach fables to children;” and it is impossible to estimate the influence which the popular writer of fiction has over the audience he wins to listen to his tales. The preacher, the teacher, the didactic writer find their audience in hours of strength, with critical faculties all alive, to question their propositions and refute their arguments. The novelist comes to us in the intervals of recreation and relaxation, and by his seductive powers of imagination and sentiment takes possession of the fancy and the heart before judgment and reason are aroused to defend the citadel. It well becomes us, then, who would guard young minds from subtle temptations, to study the character of those works which charm and delight the children.

Of no author can it be more truly said than of Louisa Alcott that her works are a revelation of herself. She rarely sought for the material of her stories in old chronicles, or foreign adventures. Her capital was her own life and experiences and those of others directly about her; and her own well-remembered girlish frolics and fancies were sure to find responsive enjoyment in the minds of other girls.

It is therefore impossible to understand Miss Alcott’s works fully without a knowledge of her own life and experiences. By inheritance and education she had rich and peculiar gifts; and her life was one of rare advantages, as well as of trying difficulties. Herself of the most true and frank nature, she has given us the opportunity of knowing her without disguise; and it is thus that I shall try to portray her, showing what influences acted upon her through life, and how faithfully and fully she performed whatever duties circumstances laid upon her. Fortunately I can let her speak mainly for herself.

Miss Alcott revised her journals at different times during her later life, striking out what was too personal for other eyes than her own, and destroying a great deal which would doubtless have proved very interesting.

The small number of letters given will undoubtedly be a disappointment. Miss Alcott wished to have most of her letters destroyed, and her sister respected her wishes. She was not a voluminous correspondent; she did not encourage many intimacies, and she seldom wrote letters except to her family, unless in reference to some purpose she had strongly at heart. Writing was her constant occupation, and she was not tempted to indulge in it as a recreation. Her letters are brief, and strictly to the point, but always characteristic in feeling and expression; and, even at the risk of the repetition of matter contained in her journals or her books, I shall give copious extracts from such as have come into my hands.

E. D. C.
Jamaica Plain, Mass., 1889.


Chapter I.
Genealogy and Parentage

TO LOUISA MAY ALCOTT.

BY HER FATHER.

When I remember with what buoyant heart,
    Midst war’s alarms and woes of civil strife,
In youthful eagerness thou didst depart,
    At peril of thy safety, peace, and life,
To nurse the wounded soldier, swathe the dead, —
    How piercèd soon by fever’s poisoned dart,
And brought unconscious home, with wildered head,
    Thou ever since ‘mid langour and dull pain,
To conquer fortune, cherish kindred dear,
    Hast with grave studies vexed a sprightly brain,
In myriad households kindled love and cheer,
    Ne’er from thyself by Fame’s loud trump beguiled,
Sounding in this and the farther hemisphere, —
    I press thee to my heart as Duty’s faithful child.

LOUISA ALCOTT was the second child of Amos Bronson and Abba May Alcott. This name was spelled Alcocke in English history. About 1616 a coat-of-arms was granted to Thomas Alcocke of Silbertoft, in the county of Leicester. The device represents three cocks, emblematic of watchfulness; and the motto is Semper Vigilans.

The first of the name appearing in English history is John Alcocke of Beverley, Yorkshire, of whom Fuller gives an account in his Worthies of England.

Thomas and George Alcocke were the first of the name among the settlers in New England. The name is frequently found in the records of Dorchester and Roxbury, and has passed through successive changes to its present form.

WholeReader. Empty coverWholeReader. Book is closedWholeReader. FilterWholeReader. Compilation cover