Monday, 27 March 2017

Detailed Timeline of Louisa May Alcott

I  have been researching heavily and expanded the initial timeline based on the Louisa May Alcott encyclopedia. From this I'm going to extract scenes to dramatise for the animation that show the relationship between Louisa and her niece Lulu and show their personalities and give an illustration of the time period. 


The following gives a chronological background of Louisa May Alcott, concentrating on the last 10 years of her life. My animation won't start until around 1879 but previous events are noted to give background on her character. I have included exerts from Louisa's letters (there are 649 in total still in existence though she burnt many), and her journals that she wrote her entire life. The following details come from these plus her biographies from various authors over the last century (references to follow).

A future post will pull a dramatisation out of these events to use for the Storyboard.

1832: Louisa May Alcott is born on 29th November in Germantown, Pennsylvania, USA. She is the second daughter of Amos Bronson Alcott and Abigail “Abba” May Alcott. 

Their first daughter, Anna (or Annie or Nan) Bronson Alcott, was born on 16 March 1831. 

Abby May Alcott (usually referred to as May) Alcott is born on 26 July 1840, 

and Elizabeth 'Lizzie' Sewell Alcott is born on 24th June 1835 and dies on 14th March 1858 at the age of 23.

Louisa's experience with children

Louisa does have considerable experience with children despite never marrying or having children of her own. She decided not to get married, at least in part because she thought marrying would limit her freedom to work and to be independent (as it did for many women of that time) though she loved children and spent a lot of time around her nephews. She once said 'I sell my children (referring to her books) but they do not love me". She did not enjoy teaching at all and tried several other occupations including nursing during the Civil War and had a terrible experience as a companion. It was necessary for her (and her mother and sisters) to work in order to support the family as her father did not have a steady income (this is a whole other story including a British naturist, a utopian community and potatos being bad for the soul).

1851: Louisa works as a governess for the family of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph S. Lovering of Boston.

1852: Louisa and Anna start a small school in their home, 'The Wayside'. Their father Bronson had taught for many years but had some quite unconventional views and had not kept his teaching position because of them. 

1853: Louisa teaches school during the winter and spring.

1855: In November and December Louisa teaches at a school in Boston.

Orchard House

The Alcott family moved around many times (over 30 different houses) while Louisa was growing up, often due to poverty. They stayed with friends and family and were helped out financially on several occasions, but Orchard House in Concord is the place most closely associated with the family and where the Louisa May Alcott museum now resides. 

1857: The Alcotts buy the John Moore house in Concord, rename it Orchard House, and move into it in October. Louisa later refers to it, in her usual droll fashion as 'Apple Slump'.

Louisa's health

Louisa suffered from ill health for many years, especially in the later years or her life despite maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and taking more physical exercise than most women in her position. She was known to regularly go running, hoisting up all her skirts and petticoats - something that was unheard of in the 1850s! She also didn't believe in wearing a corset.

1863: Louisa contracted typhoid fever while working as a nurse during the civil war and spent three weeks close to death having extreme hallucinations and fever. She was treated with mercury which had an effect on her health in later life although debateably she was suffering from Lupus as the symptoms were consistent with this.

Over the last years of her life she often had a hoarse voice, dizziness, weakness, headaches, vertigo, and general aches and pains. She was often incredibly tired and would spend days or weeks in bed recovering from bouts of intense writing. She tried various treatments ranging from Opium which was readily available over the counter at the time to hypnosis and other unconventional methods. She was often unable to write for more than an hour or two a day which is in comparison to her younger years when she would write furiously for many hours a day and produced a vast quantity of stories over short periods. The first part of Little Women (which was written in two parts) was written in about six weeks. 

She had a very strong work ethic even after she became very wealthy (a multi-millionaire by today's standards) and never stopped writing while she could, and always felt a duty to write to maintain an income to support her family (mother, father, sisters and their children) as well as providing emotional and practical support.

Louisa, her sister May and Europe

1870: A year after 'Little Women' is published making Louisa a very wealthy woman and one of the highest paid authors of her time, a stark contrast to the poverty of her youth, Louisa sails to Europe with her sister May and their friend Alice Bartlett. 

This trip takes them through France, Switzerland, and Italy. She was very seasick on the long crossing but enjoyed their travels around Europe immensely. On 27th November John Bridge Pratt, Louisa's eldest sister Anna's husband of ten years dies, leaving behind two young son's - John and Fred.

August 1870

 in a letter to her mother:-
" We still dawdle along, getting fat and hearty. The food is excellent. A breakfast of coffee and tip-top bread, fresh butter, with eggs or fried potatoes, at 8 ; a real French dinner at 1.30, of soup, fish, meat, game, salad, sweet messes, and fruit, with wine ; and at 7 cold meat, salad, sauce, tea, and bread and butter. It is grape time now, and for a few cents we get pounds, on which we feast all day at intervals. We walk and play as well as any one, and feel so well I ought to do something. . .
Fred and Jack would like to look out of my window now and see the little boys playing in the lake. They are there all day long like little pigs, and lie around on the warm stones to dry, splashing one another for exer cise. One boy, having washed himself, is now washing his clothes, and all lying out to dry together. . . "

LAGO DI COMO, 8th October 1870 in a letter to her mother

"DEAREST MARMEE, A happy birthday, and many of em ! Here we actually are in the long-desired Italy, and find it as lovely as we hoped. Our journey was a perfect success, sunlight, moonlight, magnificent scenery, pleasant company, no mishaps, and one long series of beautiful pictures all the way."

January 1871 Journal

"Began to write a new book, 'Little Men' that John's death may not leave A. and the dear little boys in want. John took care that they should have enough while the boys are young, and worked very hard to have a little sum to leave, without a debt anywhere. In writing and thinking of the little lads, to whom I must be a father now, I found comfort for my sorrow."

February 1871 Journal

"A gay month in Rome, with the carnival, artists fancy ball, many parties, and much calling. Decided to leave May for another year, as L. sends $700 on "Moods," and the new book will provide $1,000 for the dear girl; so she may be happy and free to follow her talent. "


On the 6th June, Louisa returns to the United States on a 12 day journey (with an outbreak of smallbox on the ship which she fortunately escapes contracting), to a warm welcome and to find that 'Little Men' has sold 50,000 copies before it was even out; May was a dedicated artist and stays in Europe to study art and practice painting until November. May became an accomplished artist and exhibited in the Paris Salon. In October Louisa moves to Beacon Street, Boston.

January, 1872. Journal

 "Roberts Brothers (publishers) paid $4,400 as six months receipts for the books. A fine New Year's gift. "


At the end of April, May travels to London to study art, and Louisa returns to Concord, Massachusetts.


May is called back from London temporarily in March to help care for their failing mother who has been ill for some time.  May has been away a year and a half and Louisa being too ill to care for their mother, goes to Boston for rest.

June 1976 Journal

"May and I clean the old house (Orchard  House). It seems as if the dust of two centuries haunted the ancient mansion, and came out spring and fall in a ghostly way for us to clear up.

September 1976

May returns to Europe in early September to her art studies.

December 1976 Journal

 "Miss P. sends us a pretty oil sketch of May, so like the dear soul in her violet wrapper, with yellow curls piled up, and the long hand at work. Mother delights in it.
She (M.) is doing finely, and says, " I am getting on, and I feel as if it was not all a mistake ; for I have some talent, and will prove it." Modesty is a sign of genius, and I think our girl has both. The money I invest in her pays the sort of interest I like. I am proud to have her show what she can do, and have her depend upon no one but me. Success to little Raphael ! My dull winter is much cheered by her happiness and success."

Louisa's alter ego, A.M. Barnard

During the winter of 1877, Louisa writes 'A Modern Mephistopheles' inspired by Faust for the 'NoName' series and is amused when nobody believes she is the author because it is so unlike her style.

" A Modern Mephistopheles" was written among the earlier volumes of the No Name Series, when the chief idea of the authors was to puzzle their readers by disguising their style as much as possible, that they might enjoy the guessing and criticism as each novel appeared. This book was very successful in preserving its incognito and many persons still insist that it could not have been written by the author of "
Little Women."

"The book as last sent is lovely, and much bigger than I expected. Poor "Marmee" ill in bed, hugged it, and said, "It is perfect ! only I do wish your name could be on it." She is very proud of it and tender-hearted Anna weeps and broods over it, calling Gladys the best and sweetest character I ever did. So much for home opinion; now let's see what the public will say. "

" M. M." appears and causes much guessing. It is praised and criticised, and I enjoy the fun, especially when friends say, "I know you didn't write it, for you can't hide your peculiar style."

She later confessed to writing the story and included it in a volume of other works.

"As I much enjoyed trying to embody a shadow of my favorite poem in a story, as well as the amusement it has afforded those in the secret for some years, it is considered well to add this volume to the few romances which are offered, not as finished work by any means, but merely attempts at something graver than magazine stories or juvenile literature"

She is famously remembered for referring to her juvenile literature as 'moral pap for the young' producing it purely to help the families finances. She much preferred novels such as the above which she called her 'blood and thunder' stories and dealt with more adult issues such as psychosis, drugs, prostitution and involved some very dark scenes and fearful characters. These were written under the pseudonym of A. M. Barnard.

Louisa's Mother Dies

May 1877
Anna and Louisa buy the Thoreau House, down the road from Orchard House in Concord. The Thoreaus had been family friends. 

November 1877 Journal
"Still feeble, and Mother failing fast. On the 14th we were both moved to Anna's at Mother's earnest wish."

25th November 1877
Abba, Louisa's mother who she had a very close relationship with, dies; she is buried on 27th November, leaving the remaining members of the family devastated.

Louisa writes "A week in the new home, and then she ceased to care for anything. Kept her bed for three days, lying down after weeks in a chair, and on the 25th, at dusk, that rainy Sunday, fell quietly asleep in my arms.

She was very happy all day, thinking herself a girl again, with parents and sisters round her. Said her Sunday hymn to me, whom she called "Mother," and smiled at us, saying, "A smile is as good as a prayer." Looked often at the little picture of May, and waved her hand to it, " Good-by, little May, good-by !

We feared great suffering, but she was spared that, and slipped peacefully away. I was so glad when the last weary breath was drawn, and silence came, with its rest and peace.

On the 27th it was necessary to bury her, and we took her quietly away to Sleepy Hollow (the cemetery where Louisa is also buried). A hard day, but the last duty we could do for her ; and there we left her at sunset beside dear Lizzie's dust, alone so long.

On the 28th a memorial service, and all the friends at Anna's, Dr. Bartol and Mr. Foote of Stone Chapel. A simple, cheerful service, as she would have liked it. I never wish her back, but a great warmth seems gone out of life, and there is no motive to go on now."

May the Artist

April 1977

May, at the request of her teacher, M. Muller, sends a study of still life to the Paris Salon. The little picture is accepted, well hung, and praised by the judges. The Salon was the official art exhibition of the French Academy of Fine Arts (Academie des Beaux-Arts) in Paris. First held in 1667, its name stems from its location at the Salon Carre in the Louvre. For almost 150 years (c.1740-1890), the Salon was the most prestigious annual or biannual art event in the world.

May, despite having several romances had thought she would not get married. Then unexpectedly during the period she was grieving deeply for her mother she met Ernst, a young Swiss man who comforted her and spent time with her. Despite May being 15 years older than Ernst who was 23 at the time, they became romantically involved. Ernst never knew May's real age believing she was much younger. They had a whirlwind romance and when Ernst was called to work away they decided they would rather be married and together than separated for a year so were hurriedly married in a small ceremony in a registry office in London.

May and Ernst are Married 22nd March 1878

February 1878
May becomes engaged to Ernst Nieriker and they marry in a very small ceremony in London in March.

March, 1878 Journal

"A happy event, May's marriage to Ernest Nieriker, the " tender friend " who has consoled her for Marmee's loss, as John consoled Nan for Beth s. He is a Swiss, handsome, cultivated, and good ; an excellent family living in Baden, and E. has a good business. May is old enough to choose for herself, and seems so happy in the new relation that we have nothing to say against it.

They were privately married on the 22nd, and went to Havre for the honeymoon, as E. had business in France so they hurried the wedding. Send her $1,000 as a gift, and all good wishes for the new life"

April 1878 Journal
"Happy letters from May, who is enjoying life [...] E. writes finely to Father, and is a son to welcome I am sure. May sketches and E. tends to his business by day, and both revel in music in the evening, as E. is a fine violin player."

Although Louisa is happy and supportive of her sister there is still a whistful resentment of her current situation where she is trapped caring for her infirm parents and suffering from her own failing health, despite the freedom her wealth has brought her.

"How different our lives are just now ! I so lonely, sad, and sick ; she so happy, well, and blest. She always had the cream of things, and deserved it. My time is yet to come somewhere else, when I am ready for it. "

They leave Orchard House and move to Anna's house (the old Thoreau house that Louisa has helped her buy, also in Concord). Louisa feels lost after the death of her mother and with May so far away.

"Anna clears out the old house for we shall never go back to it. It ceased to be "home " when Marmee left it."

"I dawdle about, and wait to see if I am to live or die. If I live, it is for some new work. I wonder what?"

May and Ernst' 'Ideal Life' in France

May 1878 Journal
"May settles in her own house at Meudon, a pretty apartment, with balcony, garden, etc. ... I plan and hope to go to them, if I am ever well enough, and find new inspiration in a new life. May and E. urge it, and I long to go, but cannot risk the voyage yet. I doubt if I ever find time to lead my own life, or health to try it. "

But unfortunately Louisa was never able to make the trip to see May in France.

"Got nicely ready to go to May in September but at the last moment gave it up, fearing to undo all the good this weary year of ease has done for me, and be a burden on her. A great disappointment but I've learned to wait. I long to see her happy in her own home.

Hope for Paris in the spring, as May begs me to come. She is leading what she calls "an ideal life," painting, music, love, and the world shut out. People wonder and gossip but M. and E. laugh and are happy. Wise people to enjoy this lovely time ! "

January 1879 Journal

"At the Bellevue (hotel in Boston) in my little room writing. Got two books well started, but had too many interruptions to do much, and dared not get into a vortex for fear of a break- down. "
Louisa referred to the feeling of zoning out when she wrote intensely as 'a vortex'.

"Went about and saw people, and tried to be jolly. Did Jarley for a fair, also for Authors Carnival at Music Hall. A queer time ; too old for such pranks. A sad heart and a used-up body make play hard work, I find. "

Louisa had a fondness for acting though her extended family disapproved so much she never took it up professionally, she often took on the character of Dicken's Mrs Jarley at various events. She also got annoyed with callers coming to her house after she became famous. It was the done thing at the time to entertain such visitors but instead she used to dress up as her own maid, put on an accent, open the front door and with a feather duster briskly tell the visitor that Miss Alcott was not in! and shut the door on them.

May becomes pregnant with Lulu

February 1879 Journal
"Happy letters from May. Her hopes of a little son or daughter in the autumn give us new plans to talk over. I must be well enough to go to her then"

April 1879 Journal
"Very poorly and cross. So tired of being a prisoner to pain. Long for the old strength when I could do what I liked, and never knew I had a body. Life not worth living in this way.

Put a fence round A. s garden. Bought a phaeton, so I might drive, as I cannot walk much, and Father loves to take his guests about.

E. s looked at the Orchard House and liked it ; will hire it, probably. Hope so, as it is forlorn standing empty. I never go by without looking up at Marmee's window, where the dear face used to be, and May's, with the picturesque vines round it. No golden-haired, blue-gowned Diana ever appears now; she sits happily sewing baby-clothes in Paris. Enjoyed fitting out a box of dainty things to send her. Even lonely old spinsters take an interest in babies.

I mourn much because all say I must not go to May ; not safe ; and I cannot add to Mamma Nieriker's cares at this time by another invalid, as the voyage would upset me, I am so sea-sick.

Give up my hope and long-cherished plan with grief. May sadly disappointed. I know I shall wish I had gone ; it is my luck. "

8th November 1879  Louisa “ Lulu ” Nieriker is born in Paris

" Little Louisa May Nieriker arrived in Paris at 9 P. M., after a short journey. All doing well. Much rejoicing. Nice little lass, and May very happy. Ah, if I had only been there ! Too much happiness for me"

"Little Lu one month old. Small, but lively. Oh, if I could only be there to see, to help ! This is
a penance for all my sins. Such a tugging at my heart to be by poor May, alone, so far away. The N. s are devoted, and all is done that can be ; but not one of her very own" is there."

But soon after things take a turn for the worse and Louisa has a sense of foreboding...

December 1879 Journal
"May not doing well. The weight on my heart is not all imagination. She was too happy to have it last, and I fear the end is coming. Hope it is my nerves ; but this peculiar feeling has never misled me before."

May dies in Paris on 29 December 1879

December 1879 Journal
"May died at 8 A. M., after three weeks of fever and stupor. Happy and painless most of the time. At Mr. W. s funeral on the 3Oth, I felt the truth before the news came.

Before the sad letters describing May s illness could reach America, came the cable message of her death. It was sent to Mr. Emerson who bore it to Louisa, her father being temporarily absent. His thoughtfulness softened the blow as much as human tenderness could, but still it fell with crushing weight upon them all.

Letters came telling us all the sad story. May was unconscious during the last weeks, and seemed not to suffer. Spoke now and then of " getting ready for Louy," and asked if she had come. All was done that love and skill could do, but in vain. E. is broken hearted, and good Madame N. and Sophie find their only solace in the poor baby.

May felt a foreboding, and left all ready in case she died. Some trunks packed for us, some for the N. sisters. Her diary written up, all in order. Even chose the graveyard where she wished to be, out of the city;. E. obeys all her wishes sacredly. I cannot make it true that our May is dead, lying far away in a strange grave, leaving a husband and child whom we have never seen. It all reads like a pretty romance, now death hath set its seal on these two happy years; and we shall never know all that she alone could tell us.

January 1880 in a letter to her Aunt
"Dear May is dead. Gone to begin the new year with Mother, in a world where I hope there is no grief like this. Gone just when she seemed safest and happiest, after nearly two years of such sweet satisfaction and love that she wrote us, " If I die when baby comes, remember I
have been so unspeakably happy for a year that I ought to be content ..."

31st December 1879 Journal
A dark day for us. A telegram from Ernest to Mr. Emerson tells us "May is dead." Anna was gone to B. ; Father to the post-office, anxious for letters, the last being overdue. I was alone when Mr. E. came. E. sent to him, knowing I was feeble, and hoping Mr. E. would soften the blow. I found him look ing at May s portrait, pale and tearful, with the paper in his hand. " My child, I wish I could prepare you ; but alas, alas 1 " There his voice failed, and he gave me the telegram.

I was not surprised, and read the hard words as if I knew it all before. " I am prepared," I said, and thanked him. He was much moved and very tender. I shall remember gratefully the look, the grasp, the tears he gave me ; and I am sure that hard moment was made bearable by the presence of this our best and tenderest friend. He went to find Father but missed him, and I had to tell both him and Anna when they came. A very bitter sorrow for all.

Louisa finds out that May wishes Lulu to be raised by Louisa in the event of her death

May had made every preparation for the event or her death during childbirth and obtained a promise from her sister-in-law Sophie, Ernst younger sister, that she would carry the baby to Louisa to receive the devoted care that she knew would be given it.

31st December 1879 Journal
"The dear baby may comfort E., but what can comfort us? It is the distance that is so hard, and the thought of so much happiness ended so soon. "Two years of perfect happiness " May called these married years, and said, "If I die when baby comes, don't mourn, for I have had as much happiness in this short time as many in twenty years." She wished me to have her baby and her pictures. A very precious legacy ! Rich payment for the little I could do for her. I see now why I lived, to care for May s child and not leave Anna all alone.

And it is all over. The good mother and sister have done everything in the most devoted way. We can never repay them. My May gave me her little Lulu, and in the spring I hope to get my sweet legacy. Meantime the dear grandma takes her to a home full of loving friends and she is safe. I will write more when we know, but the cruel sea divides us and we must wait.

It only remains for May's baby to be taken away to fill our cup to overflowing. But perhaps it would be best so, for even in Heaven with Mother, I know May will yearn for the darling so
ardently desired, so tenderly welcomed, bought at such a price.

Louisa was going to be a mother at age forty-six. For ten months she waited for Lulu to arrive, but the plans were made, the steamship tickets bought, the nursery prepared. Ernst Nieriker did not dispute his late wife’s wishes. He was planning to go to Brazil to try to forget his wife and child, to start a new life, and to make his fortune.

At this point Louisa goes through her paperwork and burns many letters, she "sorted old letters and burned many"

20th January 1880 in a letter to Mrs. Dodge
"DEAR MRS. DODGE, I have been so bowed down with grief at the loss of my dear sister just when our anxiety was over that I have not had a thought or care for anything else. May left me her little daughter for my own ; and if she comes over soon, I shall be too busy singing lullabies to one child to write tales for others, or go anywhere, even to see my kind friends.

A sweeter little romance has just ended in Paris than any I can ever make ; and the sad facts of life leave me no heart for cheerful fiction."

 During the winter LMA mourns May's death and struggles to finish Jack and Jill. In April Louisa moves back into her old room at the Bellevue Hotel, Boston. During the summer she vacations in York, Maine, with her nephews Fred and John Pratt (Anna's sons). In August she moves back to Concord. She went to York for rest and refreshment during the summer. Her heart was filled with longing for the child, and everything was done with reference to her coming.

1st January 1880 Journal
"A sad day mourning for May. Of all the trials in my life I never felt any so keenly as this, perhaps because I am so feeble in health that I cannot bear it well. It seems so hard to break up that happy little home and take May just when life was rich est, and to leave me who had done my task and could well be spared. Shall I ever know why such things happen ? "

March 1880  - a box of May's things arrive

This includes clothes and paintings that May had picked out before her death.

March 1880 Journal
"A box came from May, with pictures, clothes, vases, her ornaments, a little work-basket, and, in one of her own sepia boxes, her pretty hair tied with blue ribbon, all that is now left us of this bright soul but the baby, soon to come. Treasures all.

A sad day, and many tears dropped on the dear dress, the blue slippers she last wore, the bit of work she laid down when the call came the evening Lulu was born. The fur-lined sack feels like May s arms round me, and I shall wear it with pleasure. The pictures show us her great progress these last years.

If I write a serial, you shall have it ; but I have my doubts as to the leisure and quiet needed for such tasks being possible with a year- old baby. Of course little Lu is a very remarkable child, but I fancy I shall feel as full of responsibility as a hen with one chick, and cluck
and scratch industriously for the sole benefit of my daughter.

It is decided that Baby is to come to us in September. Got things ready for my baby, warm wrapper, and all the dear can need on her long journey. On the 2ist saw Mrs. Giles off (the nurse who is sent to France to collect Lulu); the last time I went, it was to see May go. She was sober and sad, not gay as before ; seemed to feel it might be a longer voyage than we knew. The last view I had of her, was standing alone in the long blue cloak waving her hand to us, smiling with wet eyes till out of sight. How little we dreamed what an experience of love, joy, pain, and death she was going to ! "

But possibly Louisa felt that there would be some relief and justification in not having to work at her writing because she had a duty to care for the baby.

"She may, however, have a literary turn, and be my assistant, by offering hints and giving studies of character for my work. She comes in September, if well. Come and see how cosey we are next October at 81 Pinckney Street. Miss N. will receive. "

(Miss N is Louisa referring to Lulu).

June 1880 Journal
"We all enjoy the new rooms (at Louisberg Square, Boston) very much, and Father finds his study delightful. Prepare the Orchard House for W. T. Harris, who is to rent it. Madame N. sends a picture of Lulu, a funny, fat little thing in her carriage. Don t realize that it is May s child, and that she is far away in a French cemetery, never to come home to us again".

A nursery is set up in Anna's house and Mrs Giles sent to Europe to collect Lulu

August 1880 Journal
"A lonely time with all away. My grief meets me when I come home, and the house is full of ghosts. September. Put papers in order, and arrange things generally, to be in order when our Lulu comes. Make a cosey nursery for the darling, and say my prayers over the little white crib that waits for her, if she ever comes. God watch over her !

Lulu is not to come till autumn. Great disappointment ; but it is wiser to wait, as summer is bad for a young baby to begin here. "

Mrs Giles (a nurse) is sent to Europe with everything Lulu might need. A ticket is also sent for Ernst's sister Sophia who is 16 to accompany her back . Sophie was to stay several months to be a familiar presence and help with Lulu.

19th September 1880 Joural - Louisa goes to collect Lulu on Boston Wharf
"In Boston, waiting for the steamer that brings my treasure. The ocean seems very wide and terrible when I think of the motherless little creature coming so far to us.

Lulu and Sophie N. arrived with poor G., worn out by anxiety. A stormy passage, and much care, being turned out of the stateroom I had engaged for them and paid for, by a rude New York dressmaker. No help for it, so poor G. went to a rat-hole below, and did her best.

As I waited on the wharf while the people came off the ship, I saw several babies, and wondered each time if that was mine. At last the captain appeared, and in his arms a little yellow-haired thing in white, with its hat half off as it looked about with lively blue eyes and babbled prettily. Mrs. G. came along by it, and I knew it was Lulu. Behind, walked a lovely brown-eyed girl with an anxious face, all being new and strange to Sophie.

I held out my arms to Lulu, only being able to say her name. She looked at me for a moment, then came to me, saying " Marmar " in a wistful way, and resting close as if she had found her own people and home at last, as she had, thank Heaven ! I could only listen while I held her, and the others told their tale. Then we got home as soon as we could, and dear baby behaved very well, though hungry and tired.

The little princess was received with tears and smiles, and being washed and fed went quietly to sleep in her new bed, while we brooded over her and were never tired of looking at the little face of " May s baby.

She is a very active, bright child, not pretty yet, being browned by sea air, and having a yellow down on her head, and a pug nose. Her little body is beautifully formed, broad shoulders, fine chest, and lovely arms. A happy thing, laughing and waving her hands, confiding and bold, with a keen look in the eyes so like May, who hated shams and saw through them at once. She always comes to me, and seems to have decided that I am really " Marmar." My heart is full of pride and joy, and the touch of the dear little hands seems to take away the bitterness of grief. I often go at night to see if she is really here, and the sight of the little head is like sunshine to me. Father adores her, and she loves to sit in his strong arms. They make a pretty picture ...* he walks in the garden with her to "see birdies."
\nna tends her as she did May, who was her baby once, being ten years younger, and we all find life easier to live now the baby has come. Sophie is a sweet girl, with much character and beauty. A charming sister in love as in law. "

October 1880 Journal
"Happy days with Lulu and Sophie ; getting acquainted with them. Lulu is rosy and fair now, and grows pretty in her native air, a merry little lass, who seems to feel at home and blooms in an atmosphere of adoration. People come to see " Miss Alcott s baby," and strangers waylay her little carriage in the street to look at her; but she does not allow herself to be kissed. "

October 1880 Letter to Mrs Dodge
"You will like to know that my baby is safely here, a healthy, happy little soul, who comes like sunshine to our sad hearts, and takes us all captive by her winning ways and lovely traits.
I shall soon be settled for the winter, and I hope have good times after the hard ones. "

Louisa found the child a constant source of interest and pleasure. This new care and joy helped to fill up the void in her life from the loss of the mother for whom she had worked so faithfully and the pet sister to whom she had ever been a good providence.

The principal interest of the next few years was the care of this child. It was a pleasant occupation to Louisa, occupying her heart, and binding her with new ties to younger generations.

Miss Alcott was very attractive to children, especially to the little ones, who thronged about her and pleaded for stories ; but this was the first one who ever really filled the mother-longing in her heart. She was now truly a " marmee ; " and remembering the blessing which her own mother had been to her, her standard of motherhood must have been very high.

8th November 1880 Lulu's first birthday Journal

Where she is lavished with clothes toys and other gifts .

"Lulu's birthday. One year old. Her gifts were set out on a table for her to see when she came down in the afternoon, a little cake with one candle, a rose crown for the queen, a silver mug, dolly, picture-books, gay ball, toys, flowers, and many kisses. She sat smiling at her treasures just under her mother s picture. Suddenly, attracted by the sunshine on the face of the portrait which she knows is " Marmar," she held up a white rose to it calling " Mum ! Mum ! " and smiling at it in a way that made us all cry. A happy day for her, i sad one to us".

December 1880 Journal
" Too busy to keep much of a journal. My life is absorbed in my baby. "

Louisa treats the family by renting Elizabeth Sewall Willis Wells house at 18 Pinckney Street on Beacon Hill Boston for the winter and a piano for Sophie to play. Bronson is off touring.

In the spring Louisa moves to Concord. Louisa and Lulu are in Nonquitt, Massachusetts (near Marthas Vineyard) with Fred and John, in July.

21st February 1881 Letter to Mrs Stearns
"But May s loss, just when life was fullest and sweetest, seems very bitter to me still, in spite of the sweet baby who is an unspeakable comfort. I wish you could see the pretty creature who already shows many of her mother straits and tastes. Her love of pictures is a passion, but she will not look at the common gay ones most babies enjoy. She chooses the delicate, well- drawn, and painted figures of Caldecott and Miss Greenaway; over these she broods with rapture, pointing her little fingers at the cows or cats, and kissing the children with funny prattlings to these dumb playmates. She is a fine, tall girl, full of energy, intelligence, and health ; blonde and blue-eyed like her mother, but with her father s features, for which I am glad, for he is a handsome man. Louisa May bids fair to be a noble woman ; and I hope I
may live to see May s child as brave and bright and talented as she was and, much happier in her fate. "

October 1881 Journal
"Happy days with Lulu and Sophie ; getting acquainted with them. Lulu is rosy and fair now, and grows pretty in her native air, a merry little lass, who seems to feel at home and blooms in an atmosphere of adoration. People come to see " Miss Alcott s baby," and strangers waylay her little carriage in the street to look at her; but she does not allow herself to be
kissed. "

8th November 1881 - Lulu's second birthday
"Gave my baby two kisses when she woke, and escorted her down to find a new chair decked with ribbons, and a doll s carriage tied with pink ; toys, pic tures, flowers, and a cake, with a red and a blue candle burning gayly. "

December 1881 Journal
"A poor woman in Illinois writes me to send her children some Christmas gifts, being too poor and ill to get any. They asked her to write to Santa Claus and she wrote to me. Sent a box, and made a story about it, $100. Lulu much interested, and kept bringing all her best toys and clothes " for poor little boys." A generous baby. "

"She (Lulu) got up and walked alone ; had never crept (crawled) at all, but when ready ran across the room and plumped down, laughing triumphantly at her feat.  A hard year for all, but when I hold my Lulu I feel as if even death had its compensations. A new world for me."

27 April 1882 Emerson dies
Louisa spends part of the summer in Nonquitt (location of Louisa's summer house (add pic) of which the most appealing factor to her was that it had no kitchen! It is likely they dined from food delivered from a local hotel). In the fall she returns to the Bellevue Hotel in Boston (now converted into an apartment building). Louisa continues to write.

April 1882 Journal
Lulu is two and a half years old...

"Lulu s teeth trouble her ; but in my arms she seems to find comfort, for I tell stories by the dozen ; and lambs, piggies, and " tats " soothe her little woes. Wish I were stronger, so that I might take all the care of her. We seem to understand each other, but my nerves make me impatient, and noise wears upon me. "

24 October 1882
While 'writing sonnets on immortality' (Cheney), Bronson (Louisa's father) has a paralysing stroke. Shortly thereafter Louisa moves back to Concord.

24 October 1882 Journal
"Telegram that Father had had a paralytic stroke. Home at once, and found him stricken down. Anxious days ; little hope. "

November 1882 Journal
"Gave up our rooms, and I went home to help with the new care. My Lulu ran to meet me, rosy and gay, and I felt as if I could bear anything with this little sunbeam to light up the world for me.

Poor Father dumb and helpless ; feeble mind slowly coming back. He knows us ; but he s asleep most of the time. Get a nurse, and wait to see if he will rally. It is sad to see the change one moment makes, turning the hale, handsome old man into this pathetic wreck."

Aunt Jo's scrapbook with V Shadow children is published by robert brothers. 1882 (check dates of t his)


March 1883 Journal
"To give A. (sister Anna) rest I took Lulu and maid to the Bellevue for a month. Lulu very happy with her new world. Enjoys her walks, the canary I got her, and the petting she gets from all. Showed her to friends ; want them to know May s child. Had her picture taken by Notman ; very good. "

May 1883 Journal
"Take care of Lulu, as we can find no good woman to walk and dress and play with her. The ladies are incapable or proud ; the girls vulgar or rough ; so my poor baby has a bad time with her little temper and active mind and body. Could do it myself if I had the nerves and strength, but am needed elsewhere, and must leave the child to some one. Long to go away with her and do as I like. Shall never lead my own life. "

July 1883 Journal
"Go to Nonquit with Miss H. and Lulu for the summer. A quiet, healthy place, with pleasant people and fine air. Turn Lulu loose, with H. to run after her, and try to rest. Lulu takes her first bath in the sea. Very bold ; walks off toward Europe up to her neck, and is much afflicted that I won't let her go to the bottom and see the " little trabs ; " makes a cupid of herself, and is very pretty and gay. "

November 1883
Louisa and Lulu move to Boylston Street, Boston.

1st January 1884 Journal
 "New Year s Day is made memorable by my solemnly spanking my child. Miss C. and others assure me it is the only way to cure her wilful-ness. I doubt it ; but knowing that mothers are usually too tender and blind, I correct my dear in the old-fashioned way. She proudly says, " Do it, do it ! " and when it is done is heartbroken at the idea of Aunt Wee- wee s giving her pain. Her bewilderment was pathetic, and the effect, as I expected, a failure. Love is better ; but also endless patience. "

February 1885
Lulu begins kindergarten.
Louisa agrees to try mindcure treatments (by this point she had regular pain and many other symptoms such as headaches and dizziness. She was to take several treatments from Opium (which was readily available at the time, to hashish and hypnosis).

May 1885 Journal
"Began to think of Concord, and prepare to go back for the summer. Father wants his books; Lulu, her garden ; Anna, her small house ; and the boys, their friends. I want to go away and rest. Anna goes up the last of the month and gets the house ready. We send Lulu and Father later, and the boys and I shut up No. 10 ..."

June 1885 Journal
"Home in C.(Concord), sunny, clean, and pleasant. Put Lulu in order, and get ready for a month in Prince ton with Mrs. H. Very tired.

 Louisa sells Orchard House and buys a cottage in Nonquitt, where she goes with Lulu and John Pratt on 24 June.

In the summer LMA goes to Nonquitt and begins Lulu's Library.
Shall have printed the last year and the " Mermaid Tale " to match the pictures we bought, and call it " Lulu s Library"? I have several tiny books written down for L. ; and as I can do no great work, it occurred to me that I might venture to copy these if it would do for a Christmas book for the younger set

8th August 1885 Journal
"Sorted old letters, and burned many. Not wise to keep for curious eyes to read and gossip lovers to print by and by."  Many of her mother's letters and journals were also destroyed on her mother's wish for the same reason

NONQUIT 25th August 1885 Journal
"My poppet is a picture of health, vigor, and delightful naughtiness. She runs wild in this fine place with some twenty other children to play with, nice babies, well-bred, and with pleasant mammas for me to gossip with.

Lulu has some trifling ail now and then, just enough to show me how dear she is to us all, and what a great void the loss of our little girl would make in hearts and home. She is very intelligent and droll. When I told her the other day that the crickets were hopping and
singing in the grass with their mammas, she said at once, " No ; their Aunt Weedys." Aunty is nearer than mother to the poor baby ; and it is very sweet to have it so, since it must be. "

September 1885
Louisa decided to take a furnished house in Louisburg Square. Her nephews were established in Boston, and their mother wished to be with them. Mr. Alcott bore the moving well, and they found many comforts in the arrangement. Louisa s health was very feeble. She had great trouble in the throat, and her old dyspeptic symptoms returned to annoy
her. Still she cannot give up work, and busies herself in preparing " Lulu s Library " for publication, and hopes to be able to work on "Jo s Boys."

lease signed for louisburg square for 2 yeras,t he most fshionable neighbourhood in beacon hill, $1650 for two years, spacious furnished an big enough for extended family she said sh would try and bear the friction and worry that having a lot of peopel around brought her. Bronson had a big room and lulu a big sunny nursery and everyone else liked  the place

September 1885 Journal
"After a lively time with house-brokers, f take a house in Louisburg Square for two years. It is a large house, furnished, and well suited to our needs, sunny, trees in front, good air, and friends nearby. All are pleased, and we prepare to move October first ... Father drove down very nicely. Pleased with his new room ; Lulu charmed with her big, sunny nursery and the play-house left for her; boys in clover; and Nan ready for the new sort of housekeeping. "

1 October 1885
As planned, Louisa — along with Lulu, Anna, John, and Fred (Anna's two sons) — moves to Louisburg Square, Boston.

December 1885
Louisa begins again to work on Jo’s Boys but is too ill to continue

Winter of 1885
Louisa passes alone on chestnut street in Boston "lulu is not like me" (??)
Bronson Alcott himself moved out of Concord for his final years, settling at 10 Louisburg Square in Boston beginning in 1885.

The Orchard House, which had been the family home for twenty-five years, was sold to Mr. Harris, and Mrs. Pratts (Older sister Anna) house was the home of all. Louisa spent part of the summer at the seashore, and finally bought a small house at Nonquit, where the children could all spend the summer, while she and her sister alternated in the care of her

Shadow Children from Aunt Jo's scrap bag volume 5 - an Old Fashioned Thanksgiving etc published in 1882, was one of the stories and included a poem. also appeard in St. Nicholas

" Lulu s Library " was a collection of stories which had been the delight of the child. The first series was published in 1885, the second in 1887, and the third in 1889 (posthumously). They are full of Louisa s charming qualities, and have a special interest from the tender feeling with which she gathers them up for her niece.

In February Louisa begins treatment by Dr.Rhoda Ashley Lawrence (unusually for the time, a woman doctor), a homeopathic physician, and resumes work on Jo’s Boys . During the summer Louisa returns to Concord. In July she finishes Jo’s Boys . During the fall LMA moves to Boston.  In December LMA moves to Dr. Lawrence' s nursing home at Dunreath Place in Roxbury, MA, saying that she will greatly miss Lulu.

September 1886
Miss Alcott returned to Louisburg Square, and spent the winter in the care of her father, and in the society of her sister and nephews and the darling child. She suffered much from hoarseness, from nervousness and debility, and indigestion and sleeplessness, but still
exerted herself for the comfort of all around her

Louisa is ill for most of the year. In June she works on A Garland for Girls. In July LMA makes her will. During July and August LMA is in Princeton. In September she returns to Roxbury. The second volume of Lulu’s Library appears in October.

"I should like to own the last two bound volumes of " St. Nicholas," for Lulu. She adores the others, and they are nearly worn out with her loving but careless luggings up and down for " more towries, Aunt Wee-wee." "

March 1887 in a letter to her Aunt
"DEAR AUNTIE, I have been hoping to get out and see you all winter, but have been so ill I could only live on hope as a relish to my gruel, that being my only food, and not of a nature to give me strength. Now I am beginning to live a little, and feel less like a sick oyster at low tide. The spring days will set me up I trust, and my first pilgrimage shall be to you ; for I want you to see how prettily my May-flower is blossoming into a fine off-shoot of the old plant.

lulus library

"DEAR AUNTIE, I always gave Mother the first author s copy of a new book. As her representative on earth, may I send you, with my love, the little book to come out in November?

The tales were told at sixteen to May and her play mates ; then are related to May's daughter at five ; and for the sake of these two you may care to have them for
the little people. "

8 February 1888
Fred Pratt (Louisa's nephew, Anna's son) marries Jessica L. Cate.

1 March 1888
 at Louisburg Square Louisa visits Bronson (her father) who is ill and bedridden.

4th March 1888 Journal
O4 March Bronson dies, he tells Louisa 'I am going up...come with me'. She responds 'I wish I could'.

"Sunday he seemed very low, and I was allowed to drive in and say "good-by." He knew me and smiled, and kissed "Weedy," as he calls me, and I thought the drowsiness and difficulty of breathing could not last long. But he revived, got up, and seemed so much as usual, I may be able to see him again. It is a great grief that I am not there as I was with Lizzie and Mother, but though much better, the shattered nerves won't bear much yet, and quiet is my only cure. "

6th March 1888
after severe headaches, a stroke and losing consciousness, Louisa dies as the age of 55. She is buried in Concord on 8 March.

New York Time obituary exerts
BOSTON, Mass., March 6.--Miss Louisa M. Alcott died this morning. Coming so soon after the death of her father the suddenly announced decease of Miss Alcott brings a double sorrow to the many friends of the family, while the loss of this talented writer will be felt far and wide among the many readers of her favorite books. For a long time Miss Alcott had been ill, suffering from nervous prostration. Last Autumn she appeared to be improving and went to the Highlands to reside with Dr. Rhoda A. Lawrence. She drove from there into town to visit her father on Thursday last, and caught a cold, which on Saturday settled on the base of the brain and developed spinal meningitis. She died at the Highlands early this morning. Miss Alcott was born on her father's birthday, and it is singular that she should have followed him so soon to the grave.
At the Alcott mansion this morning, within a few hours of the death of the daughter who had solaced his decline, the remains of the venerable A. Bronson Alcott were placed beneath her draped portrait, while words of sympathy were spoken by those who had loved him through half a century's association. The casket was environed with smilax and wreaths of ivy, violets, and white wild roses. The service was very simple. It was conducted by the Rev. Cyrus A. Bartol. The body was taken to Concord by train this afternoon and buried in the family lot.
Miss Alcott's life was in its beginning one of poverty, struggles, vicissitudes, and discouraging experiences. Fame, honor, and a comfortable fortune came in its later years. There was probably no writer among women better loved by the young than she. Her fame rested chiefly on her first successful story, "Little Women," and it was that story that endeared her to so many hundred thousands in this country and Europe alike.
It is a noteworthy fact in connection with her life and death that Miss Alcott and her father were born on the same day of the month, and that they died within 24 hours of one another.
When the civil war broke out she was one of the army of noble women who went to the front to engage in service as a nurse in hospitals. She was assigned to the Georgetown Hospital near Washington and served until she broke down under a severe attack of typhoid fever, from the results of which she never fully recovered.
Miss Alcott once aspired to be an actress and had perfected arrangements for her first appearance. Its untimely discovery by her friends prevented her appearance as a professional, and so saved her to literature. Thereafter she was content to appear as an amateur in performances for the benefit of the Sanitary Commission.

June 1889
Anna and John take Lulu to the home of her father in Zurich, Switzerland.

Ernst, Lulu's father who had been in Brazil, insists on Lulu coming to Switzerland to live with him despite Anna's protests. Anna and John (her son) take Lulu by steamboat to Switzerland and stay with her, Ernest and his sister Sophia for nine months before returning to the US leaving Lulu with her father. Lulu was never to see Anna (who she was as fond of as a mother) again. Lulu inherited 1/4 of Louisa's wealth but Ernst protested the will saying that she should have received 1/2 sending derogatory letters to Anna which were a great upset to Lulu in later years. The outcome of this is unknown.

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