Friday, 3 March 2017

Louisa and Lulu - Film Timeline

In order to decide on the main plot of the film, which I wanted to be as historically accurate as possible, I have been undertaking a large amount of research on what actually happened in Louisa's life from just before Lulu came to stay with her until Louisa's death. 

My first point of call was the Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia (Eiselein, 2001, pg xv Chronology of the Life, Times and Writings of Louisa May Alcott). The following is a modified exert detailing the time period of Lulu's stay with Louisa and concentrating on the relationship between them and their location in various residences in and around Boston and Concord, MA.

Secondly I found this quick summary from 

a website about Alcott in Germany):-

1. October1868-Little Women (Part 1) is published
14. April1869-Little Women (Part 2) is published
25. November1877-Louisa´s mother Abba Alcott dies
22. March1878-May marries Ernest Nieriker in London
8. November1879-Mays daughter Louisa May (Lulu) is born in Paris
29. December1879-May dies (The booklet "The Aclotts and Orchard House" says
November, which is wrong)
19. September1880-Lulu Nieriker arrives in Boston
4. March1888-Louisas father, Bronson Alcott, dies
6. March1888-Louisa May Alcott dies
1889-Lulu returns to Europa
13. July1893-Anna Alcott Pratt dies
1975-Lulu (Louisa May Nieriker Rasim) dies Gerrmany

1832: Louisa May Alcott (LMA) is born on 29 November in Germantown, Pennsylvania. She is the second daughter of Amos Bronson Alcott and Abigail “ Abba ” May Alcott. Their first daughter, Anna Bronson Alcott, was born on 16 March 1831.

1840: Abby May Alcott is born on 26 July (Lulu's mother)

1851: LMA works, for the first time, as a governess for the family of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph S. Lovering of Boston (relevant to show Louisa's experience with children)

1852: LMA and Anna start a small school in their home
the wayside

1853: LMA teaches school during the winter and spring.

1855: In November and December LMA teaches school in Boston. 

1857: The Alcotts buy the John Moore house in Concord, rename it Orchard House, and move into it in October. Lizzie’s (the youngest of the four sisters) health declines

1863: Louisa contracts typhoid fever while working as a nurse during the American civil war. She is treated with mercury which had an effect on her health in later life.

1870: A year after Little Women is published LMA sails to Europe with her sister May and Alice Bartlett. This trip takes them through France, Switzerland, and Italy, and it becomes the basis for Shawl-Straps. On 27 November John Bridge Pratt (Anna's husband, Louisa's dear brother in law) dies; on 23 December LMA learns of his death. (Little Women had made Louisa extremely rich, one of the highest paid writers of her time. By today's standards she would be classed as a multi-millionaire (PBS American Masters)

1871: On 6 June LMA returns to the United States; May stays in Europe to study and paint through November (May was an accomplished artist with paintings exhibited at the reknowned Paris Salon). In October LMA moves to Beacon Street, Boston.

1872: In October LMA takes a room on Allston Street, Boston. 

1873: At the end of April, May travels to London to study art, and LMA returns to Concord after a productive seven months of writing in Boston.. In November LMA closes Orchard House and moves to a room on Brookline Street, Boston

1874: May is back from London in March. During the spring LMA and May reopen Orchard House. In October LMA and May take rooms in the Bellevue Hotel, Boston.

1875: In February LMA visits Vassar College and New York City. In March she returns to Concord.

1876: In January LMA visits Philadelphia. Shere turns to Boston in February. May goes back to Europe in early September.

1877: LMA moves back in to the Bellevue Hotel in Boston in January. In May, Anna and LMA buy the Thoreau House (in Concord). In August LMA starts writing 'Under the Lilacs' . Abba's (her mother) health declines. In November the Alcotts close Orchard House and open the Thoreau House. On 25 November Abba dies; she is buried on 27 November. (Add pic)

1878: May becomes engaged to Ernst Nieriker in February (he is 15 years her junior and she lies about her age) and after a very short period they marry in London in March in a very small ceremony (so that they don't have to be parted when Ernst has to relocate for work. Louisa gives them a wedding gift of $1,000).

1879: Louise Marie “ Lulu ” Nieriker is born in Paris on 8 November. May dies in Paris on 29 December of postpartem fever. (It is common at that time for women to die in childbirth. May has prepared herself for the possibility putting aside items for family members and requesting that in the event of her death, Lulu is given into Louisa's care. Louisa does not find this out until after May's death).

1880: During the winter LMA mourns May’s death and struggles to finish 'Jack and Jill'. In April LMA 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. In September Lulu arrives from Europe. For the winter LMA and Lulu move into cousin Elizabeth Sewall Willis Wells’s house on Louisburg Square in Boston.

1881: In the spring LMA moves to Concord. LMA and Lulu are in Nonquitt, Massachusetts, in July. 

1882:.Emerson (one of Louisa's closest friends and an eminent philosopher of Concord) dies on 27 April. LMA 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). LMA continues to write. On 24 October Bronson (Louisa's father) has a stroke. Shortly thereafter LMA moves back to Concord.

1883: In March LMA and Lulu move into the Bellevue Hotel in Boston, but they are back in Concord in April. In July they visit Nonquitt. In November LMA and Lulu move to Boylston Street, Boston.

1884: In February Lulu begins kindergarten (she is 5 add pic). In June LMA sells Orchard House and buys a cottage in Nonquitt, where she goes with Lulu and John Pratt on 24 June. During August and September she is in Concord. In the fall she returns to Boston. In December LMA begins again to work on Jo ’ s Boys but is too ill to continue (her illness originally thought due to being given Mercury as a treatment for typhoid when working as a nurse during the civil war, is now thought more likely to be Lupus).

1885: In February LMA agrees to try mindcure treatments (by this point she had regular pain and many other symptoms such as headaches and dizzyness. She was to take several treatments from Opium (which was readily available at the time, to hashish and hypnosis). In the summer LMA goes to Nonquitt and begins Lulu's Library. In August LMA is back in Concord. On 1 October LMA — along with Lulu, Anna, John, and Fred (Anna's two sons) — moves to Louisburg Square, Boston.

Alcott himself moved out of Concord for his final years, settling at 10 Louisburg Square in Boston beginning in 1885.

1886: In February LMA 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 LMA 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).

1887: LMA 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.

1888: On 1 March at Louisburg Square LMA visits Bronson (her father) who is ill and bedridden. On 4 March Bronson dies, he tells Louisa 'I am going up...come with me'. She responds 'I wish I could'.

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

Ernst, Lulu's father who has 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 9 months before returning to the US leaving Lulu with her father. Lulu was never to see Anna 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. The outcome of this was unknown.

Eiselein, GKPAS 2001, Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia, Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated, Westport. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [4 March 2017].

Note: I will be posting a bibliography shortly including download / access links.

The Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia can be views in part on google books:-

or can be downloaded for up to 21 days or read online at Proquest Ebooks here if you are logged into a University library. Note that for downloading you must install Adobe Digital Editions (free):-

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