The Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott contains a broad cross-section of letters from the correspondence of the creator of Little Women and provides a compelling autobiography of this most autobiographical of writers. Spanning a period of forty-five years, this collection provides vivid accounts of Alcott's life and development as a writer.
Episodes in Alcott's life are candidly reflected: her youth, when the prototype of Jo March was already being shaped; the 1868 publication of Little Women and the prosperity and renown the book brought its author; her never-ending struggles for her family; the final years spent caring for her niece and an invalid father. Alcott's letters also furnished a vent for the pressures she felt to write a sequel to Little Women and play matchmaker for the novel's heroine. Writing to a friend in early 1869, Alcott remarked that "Jo should have remained a literary spinster but so many enthusiastic young ladies wrote to me clamorously demanding that she should marry Laurie, or somebody, that I didnt dare to refuse & out of perversity went & made a funny match for her. I expect vials of wrath to be poured out upon my head, but rather enjoy the prospect."
The correspondence sheds light on Alcott's relationship with her publishers, such friends as Emerson and Thoreau, and members of her family. Of particular note are her observations--many of them firsthand--on such major issues of the day as abolition, the Civil War, and the women's rights movement.