Share
News

Rare, Unfinished Alcott Story Gets New Life in Literary Magazine

Share

The current issue of Strand Magazine will give readers the chance to discover an obscure and unfinished Louisa May Alcott work of fiction, and to provide a conclusion themselves.

Alcott’s “Aunt Nellie’s Diary” has rarely been seen since she drafted what may have been a novel or novella and set it aside as a teenager in the late 1840s.

The 9,000-word fragment is narrated by the 40-year-old title character and follows her as a romantic triangle appears to unfold between her orphaned, fair-haired niece Annie Ellerton, Annie’s friend Isabel Loving and the visiting Edward Clifford, “a tall, noble-looking” young man with a complicated past.

Strand managing editor Andrew Gulli found a reference to the manuscript during an online search of Alcott’s archives, stored at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

“What struck me was the maturity of the work,” says Gulli, who in recent years has published obscure fiction by Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and many others in his literary quarterly.

Trending:
Lawyer Who Got Nick Sandmann a Settlement from CNN Weighs in on Rittenhouse: His New Target Is the Biggest Fish of Them All

“Here was Alcott, who was on the cusp of adulthood, creating a complex work, where her main character is a single woman in her 40s, who defies many of the stereotypes of how women were portrayed in mid-19th century America.”

Because “Aunt Nellie’s Diary” ends with various storylines unresolved, Gulli is inviting readers to complete the narrative. “We’ll post guidelines in the coming weeks,” he says.

Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, but spent much of her childhood moving around Massachusetts as her father, the educator and philosopher Amos Bronson Alcott, attempted such initiatives as an experimental school and an agrarian commune.

Louisa May and her three sisters were employed in various jobs, and the author would speak of her writing as a release from the family’s ongoing financial struggles.

Do you enjoy the work of Louisa May Alcott?

Around the same time she attempted “Aunt Nellie’s Diary,” she worked on her first novel, “The Inheritance,” which remained unpublished until the 1990s.

Alcott’s reputation is defined by “Little Women,” the classic novel from the late 1860s about a New England family that was based on her own childhood.

But she also published bloodied thrillers, children’s stories and sketches based on her time as a volunteer nurse during the Civil War.

Alcott scholar Daniel Shealy says that “Aunt Nellie’s Diary” reflects what the author called her sentimental phase, her early immersion in such British authors as Charles Dickens and Sir Walter Scott.

“You can see her picking up on some of the romanticized, even sensationalized material from those books. It’s a tough time for her, because the family was short of money, but it’s also a creative time. She’s beginning to develop and mature as a writer,” according to Shealy, a professor of English at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Related:
Hillary Clinton Publishes Thriller Novel: Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy That Hates Diversity Helps Elect 'Eric the Dumb'

“If I had to compare this to ‘Little Women,’ I’d say that you can see her ability to create characters that you can take an interest in. And you see her ability to have several strands of the story going off in different directions, and you’re wondering how she going to tie this all together.”

“Clearly, this story is building to a big reveal, and we’re going to learn new things about the characters’ pasts.”


[jwplayer hrua60S3]

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
, , ,
Share
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




Conversation

Notice: Due to threatened de-monetization, we have temporarily removed commenting while we build a long-term commenting solution that allows you to voice your opinion freely and allows us to continue to publish the news fearlessly and cover topics that you care about. If you would like to personally partner with The Western Journal to help us continue publishing while under relentless assault by Big Tech, please visit our subscription page here. We encourage you to share this article and discuss with your friends.