Lizzie’s words, in her own handwriting – the Hillside diary, and other news

I just received my order from the Houghton Library at Harvard for Lizzie’s Hillside journal. Now you can read Lizzie’s words in her own handwriting:

https://aeon.hul.harvard.edu/aeonauth/aeon.dll?Action=10&Form=75&Value=818055

00 page 1 from Lizzie's journal for blog post
MS Am 1130.9-1130.12 Volume 9, Houghton Library, Harvard University (both images)

Presentation on Lizzie Alcott, sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Lancaster University, UK

I would also like to announce that I will be presenting a 15 minute paper on Lizzie for an international symposium known as “Bearing Untold Stories,” hosted by Lancaster My presentation will be on Tuesday, May 31 at 11 am EST as part of a 3-person panel on the Alcotts. The event is free but you need to register as there are limited spaces. Livestreaming will be facilitated through MS Teams. You need an Outlook account to join MS Teams.

Go here to register for the symposium:
Click here to register for 31st May (either online or in-person): https://lancaster-uk.libcal.com/calendar/english-literature-creative-writing/bearing_untold_stories_day_1

I will be posting a video of my presentation a few days after the symposium, in case you cannot attend.

Book Update

Finally, an update on my book: I am in the middle of compiling my research for the rest of the chapters. As I have been doing this, I have realized that the book needs to take a different direction. I am excited at the prospect  because of how Lizzie’s story will be shared. Let me assure you, it will  not be a dry, chronological rendering!

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My presentation on the life of Louisa May Alcott

I am pleased to present this 54 minute video presentation on my interpretation of the life of Louisa May Alcott, as told through her family.  As there would be no Jo March as we know her without Marmee, Mr. March, Meg, Beth, and Amy, there would be no Louisa May Alcott without Bronson, Abigail, Anna, Elizabeth, and May.

This talk was presented in Dec. 2021 at the Peter White Public Library in Marquette, Michigan and in March, 2022 at the Kutztown Community Library, Kutztown, PA. Here are some comments I received:

“Thank you so much for that presentation. It was wonderful.”
Jacqueline Sharayko, Assistant Director
Kutztown Community Library

“I loved the look on your face when you were talking about her at times – you have that affectionate smile that is really nice to see. We love her so much! You did a marvelous job, I learned a lot, too. I thought I I knew a lot about her but you did such a beautiful job. So glad I was able to tune in, thank you so much!”
Robin Stratton

“My wife and I very much enjoyed your presentation last night; we also learned a lot!  Thanks so much for sharing your passion for Louisa with all of us!”
Ken and Pam Betz

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Join me for a Zoom presentation on the life of Louisa May Alcott tonight, March 16.

I am giving my talk tonight, March 16, on the life of Louisa May Alcott at the Kutztown Community Library in PA from 6:30 to 7:30 EST via Zoom.

You can register by sending an email to kutztownlibrary@gmail.com

Visit https://www.berkslibraries.org/events/3391 for more information.

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Update: Chapter 3 first draft complete; Chapter 2 in the can

I haven’t given you an update since April of 2021 on my progress but I am pleased now to say that Chapter 2 has been edited and the first draft of Chapter 3 is complete.

Chapter 3 proved quite the challenge.  I covered the seven-month-long Fruitlands experiment (June, 1843 through January, 1844) and the Alcotts’ brief time in Still River before returning to Concord (January to October 1844).

00-farmhouse-1919-cite-harriet-lothrop-papers-and-minuteman-natl-park-and-2014
Fruitlands, from 1919 and the present day.

brickends
“Brick Ends,” Still River, MA

512 fruitlands - gathering the grain
At Fruitlands, gathering the grain

It is no exaggeration to say that there is a mountain of information on this important yet short period in their lives. The Fruitlands era is difficult to understand, let alone write about succinctly. The only way that works for me is the immersion technique — take as many notes as I wish so as to be completely drenched in the philosophies, emotions and turmoil of that period, and then begin to consolidate before writing. Getting down the first draft synthesizes it further. The editing process will complete the trimming so that only what matters to the story of Lizzie comes through in the end. It is a draining, tedious, and yet exhilarating experience. You really have to love the process, and I do. I am so blessed that my various health problems interfere little with writing.

During this time, I had an opportunity to read a variety of stimulating books, from fiction, to spiritual, to academic, many of which I have reviewed for BookTrib.com. I revised an old practice of journaling as I read which is helping me to discover a bolder voice within. I believe that voice is emerging in Chapter 3.

BIO-Logo-itunesI have also found tremendous support in a round table group of women from Biographers International who are devoted to rediscovering the lives of forgotten women. We meet monthly for zoom meetings and discuss our work, and we email a lot in between. This group of accomplished, published authors has done much to build my confidence and chase away doubt.

cover smCertainly the inclusion of my essay in the recently published anthology, The Forgotten Alcott: Essays on the Artistic Legacy and Literary Life of May Alcott Nieriker (Routledge / Taylor & Francis Group) has done much embolden me as a writer. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would end up in a book with so many distinguished Alcott scholars! Or that anything I would write would end up in college and university libraries. As Amy Grant once sang, “Life is a curious thing!”

I begin today to assemble my research for Chapter 4 and the Hillside era. It is here where Lizzie speaks for the first time. I can hardly wait to immerse myself in her thoughts.

p.s. Your support has been phenomenal! I am deeply grateful to all of you for accompanying me on this grand journey.

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Lizzie Alcott’s story told in quilts

I saw this article on a quilting blog and thought you might find it interesting. I wish I knew more about quilts and the significance of their design but perhaps some of you can offer help in your comments.

Here is the article:

Hands All Around #5: Star Puzzle for Elizabeth Alcott

Block #5 Star Puzzle by Becky Brown

A block for Elizabeth (Peabody) Sewall Alcott, the quiet sister.  The puzzle may be: “How could anyone be quiet in that family?”

 Elizabeth (Peabody) Sewall Alcott (1835-1858) 
Crayon (chalk) portrait by Caroline Negus Hildreth 1857
Collection of Orchard House

Continue reading: http://civilwarquilts.blogspot.com/2021/05/hands-all-around-5-star-puzzle-for.html

Medical journal writes short extract on Beth March’s compassion

I was surprised to find this and wish it were longer. It’s a wonderful comparison between Beth/Lizzie’s courage in caring (in a hands-on fashion) for someone with a highly contagious disease and the brave Ebola workers.

From The American Journal of Medicine:

A day in the life of Lizzie Alcott … a fiction approach

At one time I considered writing Lizzie’s story as historical fiction. In that way I could go into her head and heart in a deeper way and speculate to my heart’s desire.

The problem is I have no idea how to write fiction. I never even read fiction. I have a feeling I would be a slave to the facts when the story in fact, is paramount.

But, I did try to write a couple of scenes. Here’s one I wrote several years ago. In reading this scene, it makes me want to try some more, just to get the words to flow.

The setting for this scene is Boston in 1852.

A thick fog veiled the city in mist. It chilled Louisa as she walked down the street in long strides, swerving to avoid the endless stream of bodies at every turn. As she fingered the few pennies in her purse, a sigh escaped from her lips. A flicker of warmth permeated her body as she imagined the dear faces, but it soon dissipated. There was no victory today. Continue reading “A day in the life of Lizzie Alcott … a fiction approach”

Beginning the book on Elisabeth Sewall Alcott, and taking you on the journey

I have begun work at last on a biography of Elisabeth* Sewall Alcott; she is best known as the real life prototype of Beth March of Little Women, written by her older sister, Louisa May Alcott. After spending nearly 8 years researching her life, I am ready to write about it.

Diary of a biography

Writing such a book can take years to complete and the enormity of the task is overwhelming at times. This plus the fact that I am learning so many interesting aspects of writing biography inspired me to create this diary so that you can share in the experience. As I work through the steep learning curve of writing this book, I am hoping these posts will offer information that aspiring biographers will find helpful. It is also a way to hold myself accountable to you – to work in a disciplined manner and to keep you updated on the progress of the book.

Continue reading “Beginning the book on Elisabeth Sewall Alcott, and taking you on the journey”