Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Louisa

Louisa May Alcott was born today in Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1832. She's best known, of course, for Little Women and similar books, but those aren't what she wanted to write. She had started out writing sensational stories about duels and suicides, opiumAlcott addiction, mind control, bigamy and murder. She called it "blood and thunder" literature, and she said, "I seem to have a natural ambition for the lurid style." She published under male pseudonyms to keep from embarrassing her family. But in 1867 - four years after her first book was published - an editor suggested that she try writing what he called "a girl's book," and, needing the money, she said she'd try. The result was Little Women, and it was a huge success. Such a success that she, with her whole family to support (her father was a Transcendentalist - a well-known one, in fact - and a social reformer, an educational reformer, and an abolitionist, and there's never money in that sort of thing!), felt obligated to keep writing books like it although she hated them.
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You know, I've read a couple of those "blood and thunder" books - they're not bad at all. It's a shame she didn't write more. But I do admit that when I was in junior high, I loved Eight Cousins... the sequel wasn't as good, though.

That editor was obviously the model for that horrible professor in Little Women ...

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