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The Mother Behind Louisa May Alcott In “Marmee & Louisa”

Marmee & Louisa, a new book by Eve LaPlante.

Marmee & Louisa, a new book by Eve LaPlante.

Behind every strong woman is another strong woman. In the case of Louisa May Alcott, the nineteenth-century writer best known for the classic American novel Little Women, this woman was her mother, Abigail.

Brookline resident Eve LaPlante is the great-niece of Abigail May Alcott and cousin to Louisa. Her new book, Marmee & Louisa, tells the story of the co-dependent, mother-daughter relationship that shaped both women into the witty, politically-active, progressive thinkers and writers that they were.

In a collection of letters, journal entries and writings by Abigail May Alcott titled My Heart is Boundless, Abigail laments that she wished the women of Boston “displayed more brain and less jewelry.”  According to LaPlante, Abigail considered herself to be a “beast of burden,” and in turn, Louisa referred to women of her time as  the “white slaves of America.” Throughout their lives, both women sought to achieve a more independent, significant status for women in society.

Despite the encouragement the Alcott daughters received from Abigail to live independently, Louisa never married and never left her mother’s side. She wrote after her mother’s death,  ”There’s no reason for me to go on now. I have no more purpose.”

Guest:

  • Eve LaPlante, author of Marmee & Louisa and the great-niece of Abigail May Alcott

 


Other stories from this show:

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  • Harriet Reisen

    AS the writer-producer of an American Masters biography of Louisa May Alcott, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women, and the author of a biography of the same title, I came to think that although Abigail was a powerful influence — at least as powerful as her father — upon Louisa, I did not see her as anything much like Marmee and  like most biographers, did not represent her as a simple housewife, but as a social activist and pioneer.  I also felt that Abigail, from Louisa’s youngest years,  expected Louisa to support the family, and to stay home to take care of her. Louisa would have loved to have traveled and seen the world, but Abigail asked her to be at her side until her death, and kept her from having the independent life she longed for. Please ask Ms. La Plante to comment.

  • mel

    Nice interview. I was googling about after reading Little Women and ended up here. Thanks. I’d love to read Eve’s  book and also the biography mentioned in the comment below.

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