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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Louisa M. Alcott

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When Little Men was announced, fifty thousand copies were ordered in advance of its publication! About this time Miss Alcott visited Rome with her artist sister May, the "Amy" of Little Women, and on her return, wrote Shawl-straps, a bright sketch of their journey, followed by an Old-Fashioned Girl; that charming book Under the Lilacs, where your heart goes out to Ben and his dog Sancho; six volumes of Aunt Jo's Scrap-bag; Jack and Jill; and others. From these books Miss Alcott has already received about one hundred thousand dollars.

She has ever been the most devoted of daughters. Till the mother went out of life, in 1877, she provided for her every want. May, the gifted youngest sister, who was married in Paris in 1878 to Ernst Nieriker, died a year and a half later, leaving her infant daughter, Louisa May Nieriker, to Miss Alcott's loving care. The father, who became paralyzed in 1882, now eighty-six years old, has had her constant ministries. How proud he has been of his Louisa! I heard him say, years ago, "I am riding in her golden chariot."

Miss Alcott now divides her time between Boston and Concord. "The Orchards," the Alcott home for twenty-five years, set in its frame of grand trees, its walls and doors daintily covered with May Alcott's sketches, has become the home of the "Summer School of Philosophy," and Miss Alcott and her father live in the house where Thoreau died.

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Most of her stories have been written in Boston, where she finds more inspiration than at Concord. "She never had a study," says Mrs. Moulton; "any corner will answer to write in. She is not particular as to pens and paper, and an old atlas on her knee is all the desk she cares for. She has the wonderful power to carry a dozen plots in her head at a time, thinking them over whenever she is in the mood. Often in the dead waste and middle of the night she lies awake and plans whole chapters. In her hardest working days she used to write fourteen hours in the twenty-four, sitting steadily at her work, and scarcely tasting food till her daily task was done. When she has a story to write, she goes to Boston, hires a quiet room, and shuts herself up in it. In a month or so the book will be done, and its author comes out 'tired, hungry, and cross,' and ready to go back to Concord and vegetate for a time."

Miss Alcott, like Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, is an earnest advocate of woman's suffrage, and temperance. When Meg in Little Women prevails upon Laurie to take the pledge on her wedding-day, the delighted Jo beams her approval. In 1883 she writes of the suffrage reform, "Every year gives me greater faith in it, greater hope of its success, a larger charity for those who cannot see its wisdom, and a more earnest wish to use what influence I possess for its advancement."

Miss Alcott has done a noble work for her generation. Her books have been translated into foreign languages, and expressions of affection have come to her from both east and west. She says, "As I turn my face toward sunset, I find so much to make the down-hill journey smooth and lovely, that, like Christian, I go on my way rejoicing with a cheerful heart."

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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