Edited by award-winning biographer Eve LaPlante, a collection of the letters and diaries of Louisa May Alcott’s mother, Abigail—a forward-thinking feminist whose advice and example profoundly shaped her famous daughter
Little Women’s “Marmee” is one of the most recognizable mothers in American literature. But the real woman behind the fiction—Louisa May Alcott’s own mother, Abigail—has for more than a century remained shrouded in mystery. Scholars believed that her papers were burned by her daughter and husband, as they claimed, and that little additional information survived.
Until now. When Abigail’s biographer and great-niece Eve LaPlante found a collection of letters and diaries in an attic trunk and began exploring the Alcott family archives, a window opened onto the life of this woman who has for too long been hiding in plain sight. These discoveries, and others, inform LaPlante’s groundbreaking new dual biography, Marmee & Louisa, a companion volume to My Heart Is Boundless. No self-effacing housewife, Abigail was a passionate writer and thinker, a feminist far ahead of her time. She taught her daughters the importance of supporting themselves and dreamed of a day when a woman, like a man, could enjoy both a family and a career.
Here at last, in her own words, is this extraordinary woman’s story, brought to the public for the first time. Full of wit, charm, and astonishing wisdom, Abigail’s private writings offer a moving, intimate portrait of a mother, a wife, a sister, and a fierce intellect that demands to be heard.
Eve LaPlante is a great niece and a first cousin of Abigail and Louisa May Alcott. She is the author of Seized, American Jezebel, and Salem Witch Judge, which won the 2008 Massachusetts Book Award for Nonfiction. She is also the editor of My Heart Is Boundless the first collection of Abigail May Alcott’s private papers. She lives with her family in New England.
"One of the top 25 books of 2012."
“[A] revealing collection… Abigail’s diaries and letters disclose an intelligent, self-sacrificing, tender woman whose moral conviction and strong character kept her engaged in social issues… A compelling documentary portrait of the real Marmee, whose life provided the impetus for Little Women and who emerges here as a noteworthy woman in her own right.”
“Fascinating... This thoroughly engaging collection of Abigail May Alcott’s warm and lively writings... shows her to be a witty, eloquent, thoughtful, and captivating writer... Her desire to provide work and just wages for the poor... ring[s] a startlingly contemporary bell. Though one could certainly read this volume on its own, LaPlante’s companion biography, Marmee & Louisa, will undoubtedly help to fill in gaps... One hopes that further volumes of [Abigail’s] extant work might one day be released to shed even further light on this remarkable woman.”
“Eye-opening and vibrant. . . .Abigail is resilient, loyal, ‘theatrical, poignant, passionate, and often satirical,’ devoted to liberty and Louisa’s literary efforts. Sleuth and scholar LaPlante has immeasurably enriched American letters by reclaiming ‘an American writer and thinker who has for too long been ignored.”
“Vibrant... Many of [Abigail’s] reflections and worries and prayers ring as sonorously today as when Abigail wrote them nearly two centuries ago: how to find one’s voice, how to live true to one’s ideals, how to engage with life’s problems... and how to raise the next generation.”
“Abigail was a tart observer, especially of gender inequalities... Throughout her journals, Abigail is charmingly blunt, confessing, among other things, her ‘disrelish of cooking’ and her ‘enjoyment’ of her separations from her husband.”