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Lot 2
ALCOTT, LOUISA MAY (1832-1888, American author)
Sold for £3,600 (US$ 6,022) inc. premium
Lot Details
ALCOTT, LOUISA MAY (1832-1888, American author)
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ('L. M. Alcott'), to Mr [Rev. John George] Wood, an English writer on natural history, written partly in the style of and with direct allusions to her celebrated book Little Women; she sends him the latest photograph of herself using the name of her alter ego in Little Women and Jo's Boys ('...Not very good, but better than some other attempts to make a young & blooming creature of old Aunt Jo...'); provides news for his young children in pastiche of Little Women ('...Tell the young people that Scrabble was my good friend till my other pet, Thomas Pip, the cat, ate up the too confiding fellow to my great grief. Later a tiny mouse used to amuse me at night by sitting on the rug before the wood fire, washing its face & nibbling crumbs, or sitting pensively staring at the blaze lost in deep meditation. The dear little thing brought up an interesting family in the toe of my fur lined slipper, & often led the three mites out at night to gambol before me, to my great comfort & delight as I lay awake with neuralgia in my head. Another minute a fly was my companion & was amazed to find how much character Buzz possessed, & mourned his loss when he froze to death during my absence...'); expresses a desire to visit 'old England' again soon ('...It would give me great pleasure to visit you & add more English boys & girls to the nosegay of young friends whose regard I value highly...'); asks him to forward her love to all her friends 'not forgetting the toads & other pets'; and comments on the difficulties she has with writing [which partly accounts for the rarity of autograph letters by her] ('...You see by my bad scribble that the cramp has disabled my thumb & I do without it. I have tried a type writer, but it did not please me, & I hope by the treatment I am now recover the free use of my hand after ten years of slowly increasing weakness & pain. A blow on the elbow added to the trouble, so I am learning to use the left hand...'), 4 pages, octavo, Boston, 8 April, no year [but to judge from the mention of her pet fly Buzz and her wish to visit England again, after 1870]



    Scrabble, who it is clear from this letter had a real life counterpart, is the name of Jo's pet rat in Little Women: Jo 'loved to retire with half a dozen russets and a nice book, to enjoy the quiet and the society of a pet rat who lived by and didn't mind her a particle' and where she could finish 'her story, her four apples, and [have] a game of romps with Scrabble...who being likewise of a literary turn, was fond of making a circulating library of such books as were left in his way by eating the leaves...Jo produced another manuscript, and putting both in her pocket, crept quietly downstairs, leaving her friends to nibble on her pens and taste her ink...'

    A cat is mentioned in the story, but the name Pip was transferred there to the canary.

    In her journals for 1868, just prior to writing Little Women, Alcott mentions 'Buzzy, my pet fly, moved into the sweet mansion from his hanging garden in the ivy pot.' She first visited Europe in 1870.

    Wood (1827-1889) wrote Animal Traits and Characteristics, 1860, Every Boy's Book, 1855, My Feathered Friends, 1856, The Playground, 1858 and Natural History Picture-Book for Children, 1861-1863, among many others.
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