"No scholar of his generation has added more to our understanding of Louisa May Alcott than Daniel Shealy. In his brilliantly researched Little Women Abroad, he outdoes himself. Casual readers will be delighted to share in the humor and exuberance of two irrepressible sisters as they explore the wonders of western Europe side by side. Academicians will feast upon the rich archive he has placed before their eyes and will greatly benefit from his insightful commentary and meticulous annotations. Little Women Abroad warms the heart as it broadens the mind."
—John Matteson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father
"Little Women Abroad tells an engrossing tale in letters. In the spring of 1870, two sisters escape sleepy Concord—'one of the dullest little towns in Massachusetts,' according to the elder—to lead a vagabond life in Europe for eighteen months—'poking round strange cities,' in the words of the younger. The two women pursue their respective arts, writing and painting, and grow independent, meanwhile witnessing 'two revolutions, an earthquake, an eclipse, and a flood.' Best of all, these intrepid correspondents aren't just any pair of innocents abroad. They are the novelist and witty social observer Louisa May Alcott—by 1870, so famous that she vies with the splendors of England, Italy, and Switzerland for the attention of her fellow travelers—and her youngest sister May, the fledgling artist for whom this European tour would prove pivotal in a career that culminated in a Paris Salon exhibition within the decade. Daniel Shealy's expertly edited volume will leave readers with 'heads full of new and larger ideas, [and] hearts richer in the sympathy that makes the whole world kin,' as Louisa herself wrote of this inspiring sisterly sojourn."
"Little Women Abroad is a major contribution to Alcott studies . . . In providing public access to May Alcott's letters for the first time, the volume gives a voice to a woman artist whose accomplishments are becoming increasingly well appreciated."
—Children's Literature Association Quarterly
By the time of the Alcott sisters’ sojourn, Louisa’s Little Women was already an international success, and her most recent work, An Old-Fashioned Girl, was selling briskly. Louisa was now a grand literary lioness on tour. She would compose Little Men while in Europe, and her European letters would form the basis of her travel book Shawl Straps. If Louisa’s letters reveal a writer’s eye, then May’s demonstrate an eye for color, detail, and composition. Although May had prior art training in Boston, she came into her own only during her studies with European masters. When at a loss for words, she took her drawing pen in hand.
These letters of two important American artists, one literary, the other visual, tell a vibrant story at the crossroads of European and American history and culture.
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