Little Women Abroad: The Alcott Sisters' Letters from Europe, 1870-1871

By Louisa May Alcott; May Alcott et al. | Go to book overview

Notes on the Text

Little Women Abroad: The Alcott Sisters’ Letters from Europe prints in their entirety the seventy-one letters for which I have discovered either the extant manuscript, a copy of the manuscript, or a printed text. With this edition, fifty-eight of these letters are being published for the first time in their entirety.

The publishing history of the Alcotts’ letters from Europe is quickly told. The Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott (1986), edited by Joel Myerson and myself, with Madeleine B. Stern as associate editor, printed eleven of Louisa’s letters from Europe. Ednah Dow Cheney in her Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters, and Journals (1889) partially printed twenty-eight of Louisa’s letters. Caroline Ticknor in her May Alcott: A Memoir (1929) partially printed five of May’s letters, most in the form of three- or four-paragraph excerpts. The Boston Daily Evening Transcript printed one of May’s letters in 1870 and one of Louisa’s letters in 1871. Only the texts in the Selected Letters are accurate and complete.

The majority of the texts for the Alcott sisters’ letters from Europe are based on copies of the originals made by Bronson Alcott and bound in a one-half leather volume with marble-paper-covered boards and measuring 5.2 by 8.2 inches. Stamped in gold on the spine is the following: “Letters from Louisa & May 1870.” The volume is in the Alcott collection at the Houghton Library, Harvard University (MS Am 1130.9[23]). Two original manuscript letters by May Alcott are bound into the end of the volume. No original letters for which Bronson has made copies have been located.

As for the fate of original manuscript letters, one can only speculate. May Alcott often sketched small illustrations on her letters, and these were duly noted by her father in his copies. Some of the sketches exist at Harvard and at Orchard House, revealing on the reverse portions fragments of the

-lxxv-

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Little Women Abroad: The Alcott Sisters' Letters from Europe, 1870-1871
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Abbreviations of Works Cited xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • Notes on the Text lxxv
  • Chronology lxxviii
  • The Letters 1
  • Index 271
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