Bronson Alcott in North Carolina

Fans of Louisa May Alcott know that her popular novel Little Women was to some degree a fictional account of her family. The father in Little Women is mostly absent, away at the Civil War. In March, a Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Geraldine Brooks, readers get the back story on Mr. March. We learn that he was a poor man from Connecticut who went south as a peddler. In the South, he was seduced by the intellectual atmosphere of wealthy plantation households even as he was shocked to learn the harsh measures used to deny education to enslaved African Americans. Louisa May Alcott’s father, Amos Bronson Alcott, came south as a peddler and a teacher in the 1820s, and North Carolina was on his itinerary. The North Carolina Collection has a brief account of his time here in the form of a research paper by University of North Carolina professor Raymond Adams. Professor Adams read “Bronson Alcott in North Carolina” before the Philological Club of the University in May, 1944. The North Carolina Collection has the typescript of that paper available for anyone who wants to explore the history behind the early chapters of Geraldine Brooks’ interesting novel.

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