Alcott, Louisa May: Further Reading

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Payne, Alma J. Louisa May Alcott: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1980, 87 p.

Offers a comprehensive bibliography of secondary sources on Alcott.


Anthony, Katharine. Louisa May Alcott. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1938, 315 p.

Questions the morality and upbringing of the Alcott family. Anthony's book has been criticized by later biographers for lack of solid evidence.

Cheney, Edna D. Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters, and Journals. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1907, 404 p.

Relies heavily on Alcott's journal entries and letters; includes excerpts from previously unpublished poetry. This biography was sanctioned by Alcott's sister.

Saxton, Martha. Louisa May: A Modern Biography of Louisa May Alcott. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 428 p.

Presents a psychoanalytical interpretation of Alcott's life, work, and family relations; observes in Alcott's career a regressive movement away from conflict and self-assertion and towards sacrifice and conventional morality.

Stern, Madeleine B. Louisa May Alcott. Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1950, 424 p.

Respected biography that has been influential in generating further research into Alcott's life and works.


Auerbach, Nina. "Little Women." In Communities of Women: An Idea in Fiction, pp. 55-73. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978.

Compares the social world of Little Women with that of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Clark, Beverly Lyon. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Little Woman." Children's Literature 17 (1989): 81-97.

Discusses Alcott's ambivalence toward fiction writing, particularly as a form of self expression.

——, ed. Little Women. New York: Garland Publishing, 1998, 450 p.

Contains eleven new essays and six seminal essays addressing themes of gender, sexuality, race, culture, and intellectual history in Alcott's novel.

Doyle, Christine. Louisa May Alcott and Charlotte Brontë: Transatlantic Translations. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2000, 203 p.

Compares the family life, careers, spirituality of Alcott and Brontë as well as their treatment of gender relations in their works..

Foster, Shirley, and Judy Simons. "Louisa May Alcott: Little Women." In What Katy Read: Feminist Re-Readings of "Classic" Stories for Girls, pp. 85-106. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1995.

Contends that critics tend to be emotionally engaged with Little Women because its theme, female development, is universal.

Gay, Carol. "The Philosopher and His Daughter: Amos Bronson Alcott and Louisa." Essays in Literature 2, no. 2 (fall 1975): 181-91.

Reexamines Alcott's relationship with her father and Amos Alcott's reputation as an irresponsible dreamer.

Halttunen, Karen. "The Domestic Drama of Louisa May Alcott." Feminist Studies 10, no. 2 (summer 1984): 233-54.

Looks at the meaning of Alcott's depiction the theater in her novels.

Heilbrun, Carolyn G. "Louisa May Alcott: The Influence of Little Women." In Women, the Arts, and the 1920s in Paris and New York, edited by Kenneth W. Wheeler and Virginia Lee Lussier, pp. 20-6. New Brunswick, N. J.: Transaction Books, 1982.

Argues that Little Women 's Jo has been a model of female autonomy for twentieth-century women artists.

MacDonald, Ruth K. Louisa May Alcott. Boston: Twayne, 1983, 111 p.

Offers critical discussion of Alcott's major works and considers her place in the history of American children's literature.

Murphy, Ann B. "The Borders of Ethical, Erotic, and Artistic Possibilities in Little Women." Signs 15, no. 3 (spring 1990): 562-85.

Examines the debate surrounding Little Women 's feminism.

Paulin, Diana R. "'Let Me Play Desdemona': White Heroines and Interracial Desire in Louisa May Alcott's 'My Contraband' and 'M. L.'" In White Women in Racialized Spaces: Imaginative Transformation and Ethical Action in Literature, edited by Samina Najmi and Rajini Srikanth, pp. 119-30. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002.

Examines Alcott's treatment of interracial love in her short fiction.

Rigsby, Mary. "'So Like Women!' Louisa May Alcott's Work and the Ideology of Relations." In Redefining the Political Novel: American Women Writers, 1797-1901, edited by Sharon M. Harris, pp. 109-27. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995.

Emphasizes the political significance of Work and notes Alcott's affiliation with a feminist form of American Transcendentalism.

Russ, Lavinia. "Not to Be Read on Sunday." Horn Book 44, no. 5 (October 1968): 521-26.

Examines the widespread appeal of Little Women one hundred years after its original publication.

Showalter, Elaine. "Little Women: The American Female Myth." In Sister's Choice: Tradition and Change in American Women's Writing, pp. 42-64. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.

Considers the reasons for the sustained popularity of Little Women among American female readers of diverse backgrounds.

Stern, Madeleine B. "Louisa Alcott's Feminist Letters." Studies in the American Renaissance (1978): 429-52.

Argues that Alcott's letters reveal a moderate feminism rooted in her humanist beliefs.

Strickland, Charles. Victorian Domesticity: Families in the Life and Art of Louisa May Alcott. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1985, 198 p.

Examines Alcott's life and works in terms of conflicts between the ideals and the realities of nineteenth-century family life.

Yellin, Jean Fagan. "From Success to Experience: Louisa May Alcott's Work." Massachusetts Review 21, no. 3 (fall 1980): 527-39.

Argues that Work is unique among nineteenth-century novels for proposing that women extend their actions into the public sphere.


Additional coverage of Alcott's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: American Writer's Supplement, Vol. 1; Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 20; Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction: Biography and Resources, Vol. 1; Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults, Vol. 2; Children's Literature Review, Vols. 1, 38; Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography, 1865-1917; Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vols. 1, 42, 79, 223, 239, 242; Dictionary of Literary Biography Documentary Series, Vol. 14; DISCovering Authors; DISCovering Authors: British Edition; DISCovering Authors: Canadian Edition; DISCovering Authors Modules: Most-studied Authors and Novelists; DISCovering Authors 3.0; Feminist Writers; Junior DISCovering Authors; Literature and Its Times, Vol. 2; Literature Resource Center; Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, Eds. 1, 2; Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, Vols. 6, 58, 83; Novels for Students, Vol. 12; Reference Guide to American Literature, Ed. 4; Short Story Criticism, Vol. 27; Something about the Author, Vol. 100; St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers; Twayne's United States Authors; World Literature Criticism; Writers for Children; Writers for Young Adults; and Yesterday's Authors of Books for Children.

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Alcott, Louisa May: Further Reading

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